Vol. 5 Num 558 Wed. December 21, 2005  

Iraq rejects Sunni call for polls rerun
Shias take lead in vote count amid fraud allegations

Iraq's Electoral Commission rejected yesterday a call from the biggest Sunni Arab bloc to rerun last week's vote in Baghdad after partial results showed the ruling Shia Alliance with a big majority in the capital.

"So far there are no objective grounds to order a rerun in any province," Hindawi told Reuters, saying the commission had expected such complaints after Thursday's parliamentary poll.

He describing the demand for a repeat vote as "political" and added: "No one is satisfied with the results but those who won are less critical than others of course."

Adnan al-Dulaimi, leader of a Sunni Arab umbrella group, which ran in alliance with the Iraqi Islamic Party in the election under the name Iraqi Accordance Front, said the results were fraudulent and the commission should order a new ballot.

Hindawi said the commission would study any complaint.

"Their position is rather political," he said of the Sunni Arab complaints. "If they have proof of fraud then they should send a letter to the commission and we will reply to them. But I'm sure that they will also be dissatisfied with our reply."

Hindawi acknowledged there may have been some violations but said they were minor and would not affect the overall results.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani also appealed for a broad-based government representing the entire ethnic and political spectrum following Thursday's landmark general election.

The National Concord Front, a coalition of three major Sunni powers that competed in parliamentary polls for the first time, condemned what it described as fraud and violations in the election.

Amid high sectarian tensions between Iraq's majority Shias and the fallen Sunni elite, the Sunni coalition cast doubt on preliminary results released by the Election Commission that favoured the largest Shia coalition.

"We reject these results announced by the commission," Adnan al-Dulaimi, one of the leaders of the National Concord Front told a news conference.

The conservative Shia United Iraqi Alliance list won 58 percent of the vote in Baghdad while the National Concord Front came second with 18.6 percent, according to partial results announced by the electoral commission on Monday.

"The National Concord Front contests these results and considers them fraudulent," said Tareq al-Hashimi, of the Iraqi Islamic Party which joined the same Sunni coalition, warning those involved "not to play with fire".

The leaders specifically called on the electoral commission to reexamine and correct the results they had announced so far.

"The electoral commission can still rectify the situation, otherwise it will be entirely responsible for this fraud which will have serious repercussions on the security and economic situation," Hashimi said.

The charges come as Bush urged Iraqis to form a new government as soon as possible and not squander the political gains made by the first legislative election to include major participation by all sectarian groups.