jeudi 11 mars 2010

Initial figures on election in Iraq set for release today

MICHAEL JANSEN in Sulaimaniya, Iraq
Thu, Mar 11, 2010

IRAQ’S ELECTION commission announced yesterday a second postponement of the release of preliminary results of Sunday’s national parliamentary election.

The election commission and the UN mission in Iraq said initial figures will be released today.
Projections made by party observers who monitored both voting and counting put the moderate sectarian Shia “State of Law” coalition of incumbent prime minister Nuri al-Maliki ahead of the secular Iraqiya list, headed by former premier Iyad Allawi.

Mr Maliki’s coalition is said to have won about 90 seats in the 325-seat assembly, and Mr Allawi’s party a slightly lower number.

Third place is expected to be taken, once again, by the Kurds, who, according to sources in the three main Kurdish parties, could take 60-65 seats. The Shia religious faction list dominated by the pro-Iranian Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council and the party of radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has, reportedly, come in fourth.

If this estimate is correct, it would seem many Iraqis have turned away from frankly sectarian parties with a fundamentalist agenda and Iranian connections.

If the Kurds come in third they could be the kingmakers in the new parliament, as they were in the old. Salam Abdullah, Sulai-maniya director of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), told The Irish Times that the Kurdish parties could be expected to act as a bloc on issues of primary interest to the Kurdish community. The KDP is also committed to the re-election of current President Jalal Talabani, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).

Once the results are declared, the election commission will have to deal with a flurry of complaints. More than 100 have already been registered in Basra, while two key races are already generating tension and could precipitate violence.

The victory of the PUK/KDP alliance in Kirkuk (Tamim) province, which lies outside the Kurdish autonomous region, has already produced a flurry of official complaints from the Kurdish opposition Goran or “Change” party, and from Turkoman and Arab parties, which argue that the PUK/KDP bloc could not have won eight out of the province’s 12 seats.

Mr Allawi is also disputing election eve disqualifications of 55 candidates, 30 of whom are members of his list. If even a few of his winners are excluded, his coalition could lose its second place in the race.

The committee which banned his candidates – on the basis of accusations that they are members of the outlawed Baath party – is headed by former US favourite Ahmad Chalabi, who ran on the lagging Shia fundamentalist list. If Mr Allawi’s list suffers losses, he has threatened to charge fraud on the part of the government, which supports the banning of alleged Baathists.

Mr Chalabi’s panel, which has no legal status, earlier barred 511 candidates from standing for election, the majority secular persons. Reidar Visser, an expert on Iraq, said a fresh round of disqualifications could “create a major problem for the whole process” since it could undermine the legitimacy of the entire election.
© 2010 The Irish Times

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