Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has slammed the United Nations over its inaction on his vote fraud allegations, after results showed his bloc finished second in Iraq's general election.
AFP - Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki sharply criticised the UN on Sunday over its inaction on his vote fraud allegations, after results showed his bloc finished second in Iraq's general election.
Maliki's remarks came as rival Iyad Allawi, whose bloc finished with two more seats than the incumbent's alliance in the March 7 poll, opened talks with political foes to form a coalition government.
"If I were in Melkert's position and in front of this wave of problems, I would have said, 'You should go all the way through (to detect fraud),'" he said in a television interview, referring to UN envoy Ad Melkert.
"But Melkert has said, 'Well, it is difficult because of time.'"
Maliki has called for a nationwide manual recount from the election, claiming irregularities in the counting procedure, but Melkert and Iraq's election commission have downplayed the fraud allegations.
The complete results, which were only released on Friday, showed Maliki's State of Law Alliance finished with 89 seats in the 325-member Council of Representatives, two fewer than fellow Shiite Allawi's secular Iraqiya bloc.
"I asked the IHEC (Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission) to manually recount -- they refused, and the United Nations was more vehemently against my request than the IHEC," Maliki said.
"The United Nations should have been more keen and more pushy to the IHEC to accept the request of the people" for a manual recount, he added.
Maliki, who will remain as prime minister in a caretaker role until a new premier is elected, said late Friday the election results were "not final" and refused to accept them.
Shortly before the results were released, though, Melkert hailed the polls as "credible" and called on all parties to accept the outcome.
"It is the UN's considered opinion that these elections have been credible and we congratulate the people of Iraq for this success," he said.
The United States has also given its blessing to the election and the results, with US ambassador Christopher Hill and General Ray Odierno, the top US commander in Iraq, saying there was "no evidence of widespread or serious fraud".
The United States is due to withdraw all of its combat troops from Iraq in about five months, and Washington is keen to see a smooth outcome.
It could take up to two weeks for Iraq's supreme court to certify the results, as parties can still submit complaints to the election commission.
"I expect him (Maliki) to wage a pretty aggressive campaign to present his challenges, argue his case in the hopes of changing the ultimate seat allocation that goes to court for certification," said Gary Grappo, the head of the US embassy's political section.
Maliki "will pursue all means at his disposal through the established judicial process."
On Saturday, Allawi said his bloc had launched discussions with a variety of groupings, noting he would hold talks with all "political forces, without exception."
"There must be a strong government, capable of taking decisions which serve the Iraqi people, and bringing peace and stability to Iraq," he said.
Neither Iraqiya nor State of Law clinched an overall parliamentary majority and a protracted period of coalition building, which could take months, is now expected.
Maliki said in Sunday's interview that his bloc had also held talks with rival factions, and would soon make an announcement on its progress.
"The coming days will see the announcement of a coalition to form the next government," he said, noting it would be made up principally of the blocs that came third and fourth in the election, the Iraqi National Alliance and Kurdistania.
Security officials have warned a lengthy period of government formation could give insurgent groups a chance to further destabilise Iraq, with bombings northeast of Baghdad that killed 52 people on Friday illustrating the concerns.
Date created : 2010-03-28