Iraqi secular leader says votes recount must be under strict international monitoring

08:27, April 21, 2010      

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Ayad Allawi, secular politician and head of Iraqia electoral bloc, said Tuesday that his bloc respects the decision of the appeals panel to recount votes of March 7 parliamentary elections, but stressed such process must be under "strict international monitoring."

"We respect the latest measures (of appeals panel for manual recount for votes in Baghdad), which must be under international strict monitoring," Allawi told news conference.

However, Allawi warned that such recount should include areas that his bloc submitted complaints about alleged manipulation other than Baghdad, otherwise, his bloc would take decisions which he refused to name.

"If such measures (manual recount) would not cover other areas that we have submitted complaints, the Iraqia bloc would take a decision which I don't want to disclose now," Allawi said.

Allawi hinted that the appeals panel yielded to Maliki's demands for recount when he (Allawi) asked why the appeals panel did not discuss with his bloc's team of lawyers about his complaints, like they did with the lawyers of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law bloc.

Allawi's comments came a day after an appeals panel ordered manual recount for ballots in Baghdad after looking in complaints by political blocs.

"The appeals panel tasked with reviewing the complaints of the political blocs about the parliamentary elections decided to carry out manual recount for Baghdad province only," Hamdiya al-Husseiny, a member of the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) said.

Earlier, several blocs, including Maliki's bloc, demanded manual recount claiming that hundreds of thousands of votes have been manipulated in five provinces.

On April 11, Hachim al-Hassani, spokesman of Maliki's bloc said that his bloc demanded manual recount in five provinces, including Baghdad, but he added that his bloc would accept manual recount even if it is only in Baghdad.

The manual recount may change the seat ranking of the two leading blocs with a narrow gap of two seats. And any change in seat numbers is likely to bring about more subsequent political rows.

On March 7, some 62.4 percent of more than 18 million eligible voters turned out in some 8,920 polling centers across the country to vote for the 325-seat Iraqi Council of Representatives out of some 6,300 candidates.



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