Fears that the election will fuel rising violence continue to rise today, following the bombing of a restaurant in the Sunni-majority Diyala Province. The bombing left at least 59 dead and 73 others wounded.
Though it was unclear if the attack was directly related to the election or just part of the ever-present background violence in Iraq since the 2003 US invasion is unclear. What is clear however is that tensions are on the rise.
Results in the March 7 election are finally in, after an emergency meeting delayed the results by over an hour. Former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s party has emerged victorious with 91 seats, with Maliki’s State of Law getting 89 seats.
Before the results were even announced, several minor blocs had already dismissed them. More concerning, however, is that the major blocs seem to be just as skeptical about the final results, as members of the ruling State of Law bloc accused the election commission of bias in favor of the Iraqiya bloc.
Ironically the self-same election commission was at the center of investigations which ended with the banning of several Sunni members of Iraqiya as “Ba’athists.” And while Maliki’s State of Law supporters protest in the streets and threaten “consequences” if they don’t emerge victorious, some Sunni factions which have thrown their lot in with the secularist Iraqiya have likewise threatened action if they don’t win.