Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki today reiterated calls for the full manual recount of the votes cast earlier this month, though the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) has insisted repeatedly that it will not allow political pressure to affect its decision to refuse it.
But Maliki’s efforts are hardly over, and several top provincial chiefs loyal to Maliki have joined in the calls, threatening unspecified “major escalation” of the situation if they don’t get their way.
The initial vote count is said to be about 95 percent complete, and final results were supposed to come on Friday. The Iraqiya bloc of Ayad Allawi holds a narrow lead (around 11,000 votes) over Maliki’s State of Law Party. The present count would give Maliki’s bloc a narrow plurality of seats, though the exact numbers remain in dispute (one estimate saying 91-87 and another saying 92-91) and will likely change at any rate before the final count is in.
Maliki allies have cited the “surprising” gains by Iraqiya as a chief reason for the manual recount. Yesterday they suggested that they might refuse to recognize the results of the election entirely without a recount, which could throw the nation into serious turmoil.
But in the meantime, both Iraqiya and State of Law are focused on courting the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), the third place bloc in the election. At the present time, it seems Maliki’s bloc has the edge in these negotiations, but the process is expected to last months and it is really too early to tell how it will all shake out.
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