Iraq downplays election fraud claims

March 15, 2010 at 4:51 PM
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BAGHDAD, March 15 (UPI) -- Any violations in the parliamentary election March 7 in Iraq didn't have an impact on the election process or undermine election legitimacy, officials said.

More than 60 percent of the eligible voters in Iraq turned out for the March 7 parliamentary elections. Early tallies indicate the State of Law coalition of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in the lead in Baghdad province, a key district with 68 seats in the 325-member parliament.

Maliki's rivals in the Iraqi National Alliance slate of Ahmed Chalabi and the secular Iraqiya coalition of former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi last week complained of election fraud.

Iraqiya said "certain parties" had interfered with the work of the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission. Chalabi's slate said there was tampering with computers used to tally the votes.

Qassim al-Aboudi, a spokesman for the IHEC, said Monday that no election process was perfect.

''No elections are implemented without complaints," he said. IHEC added that any election violations did not appear severe enough to influence the outcome.

Struan Stevenson, the president of the EU delegation to Iraq, said Friday the "steady flow of (fraud) allegations has now become a flood."

Stevenson said he received "first-hand accounts" of ballot stuffing that benefited Maliki's State of Law coalition in Sunni neighbors in the Iraqi capital. "Many thousands" of ballots papers for Iraqiya, meanwhile, were discovered in a Baghdad trash heap, he added.

Stevenson said had would deliver a "large dossier of evidence" highlighting the level of fraud to the European Parliament March 17.

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