Maliki Orders Elected Sunni MPs Detained as Vote Dispute Turns Ugly

PM Got Secret Ruling From Supreme Court to Block Allawi Victory

by Jason Ditz, March 27, 2010

It is only one day after the results were announced, and already the battle to form the next government in Iraq is turning ugly, as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki seems intent on eating into rival Ayad Allawi’s two seat plurality any way possible.

Earlier today it was revealed that Maliki had quietly sought a ruling from the Iraqi supreme court just before the election results were released that would allow him to bypass Allawi’s plurality through recruiting new bloc members after the election.

But beyond that and perhaps more galling for the Iraqi voter, the Justice and Accountability Commission, which saw several members of Allawi’s bloc barred from competing in the election, has suggested it may block some of his elected members from serving, and replace them with members of some other political faction. Allawi’s narrow two seat lead could scarce stand up to this possibility.

Yet the Maliki government is being even more brazen than this, it would seem, as reports have emerged out of Diyala Province that four Sunni MP-elects from Allawi’s bloc are being targeted by security forces. One has already been captured and is being held incommunicado by the Maliki government, two others have gone into hiding, and the fourth is nowhere to be found.

Maliki had promised to contest the results of the vote and reports have him considering pressing the United Nations to overturn the vote and force a recount, though the UN had already praised the election’s transparency. All the arguments about recounts appear to be very much beside the point, however, if the battle for the plurality has already escalated into summary detentions.

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