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Manual recount results in Baghdad won't change

By Jomana Karadsheh CNN
Workers with the Iraqi Electoral Commission prepare to transport ballot boxes.
Workers with the Iraqi Electoral Commission prepare to transport ballot boxes.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Electoral Commission: Final results for Baghdad will be announced Monday
  • Says results from the most populous province in the country will not change
  • Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki demanded recount after his party came in second
  • Iraq's 18 provinces need to be certified in federal court before parliament is formed
RELATED TOPICS
  • Iraq
  • Baghdad
  • Nuri al-Maliki

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- The manual recount of the Baghdad votes from Iraq's March general election has been completed, and it's not good news for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Iraq's election commission says the results from the most populous province in the country will not change. And that would be a blow to the prime minister, who claimed election fraud and won a court appeal for the recount after his coalition came in second by two seats.

Qassim al-Aboodi, commissioner and spokesman of the Independent High Electoral Commission, said the final results for Baghdad will be announced Monday.

What he's seen so far, he says, proves the lack of fraud and the credibility of the March 7 polls, regarded by many international observers as a fair process.

More than two months after the elections, there has been no clear winner, and the final results in each of Iraq's 18 provinces need to be certified in federal court before the 325-member parliament can be formed.

Former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's mainly secular al-Iraqia won a narrow victory with 91 seats, while al-Maliki's predominantly Shiite State of Law coalition won 89.

To form a government, a 163-seat majority is needed.

Critics of al-Maliki say he has been wrangling to alter Allawi's lead by pursuing the recount and forming a coalition with the rival Iraqi National Alliance, a coalition of Shiite parties.

That merger would form a bloc with 159 seats, four seats away from having the majority they'll need to form a government.

But Allawi's bloc maintains that it has the right to try to put together a Cabinet first because it won the election.

Iraq has been riven by Shiite and Sunni tensions for years. And the re-emergence of a united Shiite alliance, the same one that has ruled the country since 2005, could stoke sectarian tensions, especially if the Sunni Arab minority feels that it is not being represented.

Allawi's bloc, meanwhile, has had much support from the Sunni community.

Western and Iraqi officials, including Allawi, have said that Iraq's next government must be inclusive and representative or the consequence may be violence.

Sunni Arabs largely boycotted the 2005 elections. Thus emerged a Shiite-led government, leaving the once-ruling minority feeling alienated and driving them to a bloody insurgency and a sectarian war that gripped Iraq for years.

Extremist groups, mainly al Qaeda in Iraq, are known to take advantage of political fissures and carry out attacks to create further turmoil.

The U.S. military is scheduled to draw down its troops, leaving behind a residual force of about 50,000 with a non-combat mission at the end of August. According to the security agreement between both countries, all American troops are scheduled to be out of Iraq by the end of next year.

 
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