One would think the beginning of the full manual recount of all the votes cast in Baghdad on March 7 would be a cause for celebration for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki: after all, it was his State of Law bloc that demanded the recount and finally got its way.
But that appears not to be the case as State of Law voters took to the streets in anger and forced a brief halt to the counting following Maliki’s claims that they were counting wrong.
State of Law narrowly lost the election to the Iraqiya bloc and has hoped, between the disqualification of Iraqiya candidates and summary arrests to overturn that result, but the Baghdad recount was also supposed to give them a significant bump, and it seems something has gone wrong with that plan.
Maliki is now demanding that they not only do a full manual recount of all the ballots but that they also audit every single signature on all the voter registries to make sure that they match the records. Even without this the count was expected to take several weeks.
But Iraq’s election commission appeared to be putting its foot down today, insisting they were doing the recount exactly as the court order mandated, and it did not require anything resembling the full audit of signatures. In retaliation Iraq’s Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani, a Maliki supporter, claimed the commission was trying to manipulate the votes and vowed that they would be held accountable.
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