No change in Iraq election result after recount

Baghdad–Iraq’s vote recount in Baghdad did not change the parliamentary seat allocation, election officials said on Sunday, leaving the cross-sectarian coalition led by former prime minister Iyad Allawi with the most seats.

The secularist Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc, supported heavily by Iraq’s minority Sunnis, won 91 seats in the March 7 vote, edging out the mainly Shia State of Law coalition led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki with 89.

While Allawi has insisted that winning the close election gave him the first opportunity to form a new government, Maliki’s bloc has already announced an alliance with the Shia Iraqi National Alliance, the third-place finisher, to form the largest grouping in parliament.

The Shia dominated alliance could push Allawi to the sidelines and anger Sunnis who supported Iraqiya, raising concerns about a potential revival of sectarian conflict as US troops prepare to end combat operations in Iraq by September 1.

The recount of 2.5 million votes in Baghdad left intact Allawi’s two-seat lead.

“There is a change, but not a significant change, for the (candidates) inside the blocs. For example, Omar can replace Mohammed … but the number of the seats stays as is, there is no change,” Saad al-Rawi, one of nine commissioners on the Independent High Electoral Commission, told Reuters.

Maliki had demanded the recount of votes cast in Baghdad, alleging fraud. Election officials said when they finished the recount on Friday that they had found no signs of fraud, manipulation or big mistakes.

Baghdad, Iraq’s capital and most populous city, was the biggest prize in the election with more than 20 percent of the seats in the 325-seat parliament.

The length of time it has taken to count ballots from the March 7 election and move on to certification of the final results could make Iraq vulnerable. After the last parliamentary election in 2005, violence exploded when politicians took more than five months to negotiate a new government.

Attacks by suspected Sunni Islamist insurgents have killed scores of people in the 10 weeks since the vote, including at least 125 in a wave of bombings and shootings across the country six days ago.

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