Adding to hundreds if not thousands of incidents alleging fraud in this month’s Iraqi national election, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s ruling State of Law Coalition is now claiming fraud in the counting of votes. Top opposition party Iraqiya has vociferously been claiming fraud since the election, and the second tier parties, the Kurdish bloc and the Iraqi National Alliance, have made similar claims.
Maliki is now demanding a full recount of the votes in Baghdad, perplexing since his party actually appears to be winning in the capital city quite soundly. Most recent counts show him ahead 460,000 to 286,000 over the Iraqiya bloc.
State of Law spokesmen claim to have received evidence that the count was tampered with and threatened to out the person responsible unless the recount was agreed to. The vast majority of other fraud claims allege vote tampering on Maliki’s behalf, including allegations that the military positioned troops inside voting areas to tell people who to vote for. Maliki’s party had previously dismissed all claims of fraud.
The prime minister’s newfound concern seems to be fueled in no small part by the most recent figures in the vote counting, which show that his narrow lead nationwide has evaporated and that he now trails former prime minister Ayad Allawi. Allawi’s lead is minuscule at this point, but some are predicting it to grow as the overseas ballots are counted.
Though Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc is in the opposition, they are no stranger to allegations of voter fraud against them. Earlier this week Kurdish officials claimed that Kirkuk’s Sunni Arab government had been committing fraud on Allawi’s behalf. Allawi, a Shi’ite himself, has polled strongly among Sunni portions of the nation, as his bloc is secularist in nature and has ties with many top Sunni figures.
Though it is unclear what Maliki hopes to gain from the demand for a recount, the number of allegations will likely soar in the coming weeks, as the count finalizes and the various parties that didn’t do as well as they expected speculate as to the reason why. The fraud allegations and calls for recounts will likely further stall efforts to form a new coalition government, a process that was already projected to take months.
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