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Challenges to Iraqi Election Results
April 5, 2010
By: Paul Larson | Printer Friendly

The March 7 poll in Iraq was determined to be free and fair by groups like the United Nations Security Council and Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission.  The poll, however, did not produce a clear winner of who would be able to form the next Iraqi government.  Accusations of fraud and Baathist ties are now being slung in order to gain an edge.
The election resulted in Iyad Allawi’s party winning 91 seats in the 325-seat legislature, just two more than current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s 89 seats.  Both parties are well below the critical mass of 163 needed to form a government.  As a result, both Allawi and current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki are working tirelessly to form coalitions that will hold a majority of parliamentary seats and select them as Iraq’s next prime minister. 

The close battle has made accusations of fraud and ties to Baathism a critical issue that could change the outcome of this closely contested election.  The Justice and Accountability Committee is charged with ensuring Baathist candidates are not allowed to run.  It banned 500 people from running in the recent election.  The Committee recently announced that six candidates should be disqualified from taking their seats in the legislature due to ties to Saddam Hussein’s Baath party.  Four of those six candidates are on the list of Allawi’s party.  If the candidates are disqualified, it would change the outcome of the election and allow al-Maliki to form a government before Allawi.  Representatives of Allawi’s party fired back, calling the Committee’s decision politically motivated and illegal. 

There are additional accusations of interference by other countries in the region.  Iran is supposedly in favor of al-Maliki’s Shi'ite-Kurdish alliance, whereas Allawi is supported by Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, according to Time. 
The precarious situation has put tremendous power in the hands of smaller candidates that can play the role of kingmaker.  Iranian backed Iraqi National Alliance won 70 seats, 40 of which are supporters of Al-Sadr; the Kurdish coalition won 43 seats.  The Sadrists held a poll on April 3rd to determine who they want to support as kingmaker, according to Aljazeera.  The results of that poll have not yet been released.

Representatives of Allawi’s party have accused the Prime Minister of using state forces to detain elected officials before they can take office in order to remove their lead.  One candidate was detained before the election and at least four more are hiding from authorities. There are other reports of homes being raided and families of politicians being harassed.  A spokesman for al-Maliki said the Prime Minister has nothing to do with the arrests.  A warrant would have to come from a judge.

Sources:

Aljazeera - Sadrists close 'ballot' for Iraq PM

Aljazeera - UN backs Iraq election results

AP - Security Council backs Iraq election results

BBC News - Recount demands may spell trouble for Iraq's elections

BBC News - Call to bar Iraq election winners 'connected to Saddam'

Business Week - Iraq Election Results Give Allawi Group Largest Bloc (Update3)

Foreign Policy - Iraq's Election Was Free and Fair

Time - Iraq's Election: Can This Deadlock Be Broken?

Washington Post - Iraqi government is harassing winning candidates, Sunnis say

 

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