Al-Maliki's bloc to challenge Iraq poll results in court

Arab World Materials 28 March 2010 00:01 (UTC +04:00)

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's coalition will ask a court to order a manual recount of ballots cast in the March 7 parliamentary polls results which showed it narrowly losing the vote, a spokesman said Saturday, dpa reported.

Results released Friday evening showed former prime minister Ayad Allawi's rival Iraqi List winning 91 seats, and al-Maliki's State of Law coalition winning 89, results so close that Allawi's bloc would have to form alliances with former rivals to govern.

"We are wary of the results announced by the electoral commission," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in remarks broadcast on state television Saturday.

"We have information about cases of fraud ... in both Baghdad and Mosul, and we are determined to bring (court) challenges in the coming days, to demand a recount of the votes, especially in the cities of Baghdad and Mosul," al-Dabbagh said.

Allawi, meanwhile, held out the possibility of forming an alliance with al-Maliki's coalition.

"We are open to all powers, beginning with ... al-Maliki's State of Law coalition," he told reporters in Baghdad.

"Iraq is not the property of any man, front or sect," Allawi said. "It is the property of all Iraqis together."

The former prime minister said his government would seek to "turn the page" on Iraq's relations with its neighbours, especially Iran and Kuwait, "based on mutual respect, non-interference with internal affairs ... and shared interests."

Speaking from Tehran, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, said the Iraqi people were the winners in the polls.

Talabani, an Iraqi Kurd, was in Iran to celebrate Nowruz, the Persian and Kurdish new year, which started on March 21.

"The Iraqi people are the main winners of the election, which prepared grounds for formation of a national government," the Iraqi president said.

"The election will open a new chapter of constructive developments in Iraq, another step forward towards democracy and another manifestation against violence and terrorism," he added.

Intricate negotiations on forming a new government, which began weeks before Friday's release of the final results, could last for months.