Allawi edges out Maliki in Iraq poll

PM cries foul as secular leaders wafer-thin victory sets up period of uncertainty

Allawi edges out Maliki in Iraq poll

The outcome, announced on Friday, was immediately challenged by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and his supporters in the State of Law coalition, who hurled accusations of fraud and made vague references to the prime minister’s power as commander in chief.

Several parties have cried fraud as their fortunes waxed or waned in the slow vote count, an ominous reminder of an Iraqi political culture where winning is everything and compromise elusive. Western observers and an independent election commission said they saw no signs of widespread fraud. Allawi galvanised the votes of millions of Sunnis — who boycotted the last parliamentary elections in 2005 — to build his edge of 91 to 89 seats over his nearest rival, Maliki. That falls far short of the majority of 163 of the 325 seats in Parliament that he needs to form a government.
Iraqi political experts interviewed on Friday doubted that Allawi would succeed in assembling a governing coalition.

US calls for refrain
In a statement that seemed to reflect American concerns about the potential for violence, US Ambassador Christopher R Hill and Gen Ray Odierno, the top American military commander in Iraq, praised “the overall integrity of the election” and called on political parties to “refrain from inflammatory rhetoric or action.” There had been hope that the election would spell an end to Iraq’s sectarian politics. And though the balloting shattered the sectarian political template that brought Maliki to power in 2005, when an alliance of Shiite parties dominated the election, the outcome re-emphasised the country’s sectarian and regional divides.
The New York Times

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