Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

REPORTERS

Halal tourism on the rise

Read more

ENCORE!

Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday : The Best of the Bard

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

The Tour de France, a PR machine

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Coverage of the third plane crash in one week - from France, Algeria and Burkina Faso

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Coverage of the plane crash that took 116 lives - almost half of them French

Read more

DEBATE

Gaza: A Truce At All Costs?

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Central African Republic: Brazzaville ceasefire talks deliver fragile deal

Read more

FOCUS

Sluggish tourist season in Crimea

Read more

ENCORE!

Bartabas : Mixing Christ with Spanish music and dancing horses

Read more

  • Live: ‘No survivors’ from Algerian plane crash, says Hollande

    Read more

  • French families grieve for Algerian plane crash victims

    Read more

  • Protest against Gaza offensive turns deadly in West Bank

    Read more

  • LA Times wipes France off the map in air crash infographic

    Read more

  • Ukraine names acting PM after Yatseniuk's shock resignation

    Read more

  • Deadly strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • Wreckage of Algeria plane found in Mali

    Read more

  • BNP to pay $80 million for defrauding Dept of Agriculture

    Read more

  • Pope meets Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan

    Read more

  • Italy’s Nibali cruises to victory in 18th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • Iraqi parliament elects moderate Kurd as president

    Read more

  • US, European agencies lift travel restrictions to Tel Aviv

    Read more

  • No end to fighting until Israel ends Gaza blockade, Hamas says

    Read more

Rivals challenge Iraq PM's election success

AFP

Nuri al-Maliki casts his vote at a polling station in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone on April 30, 2014Nuri al-Maliki casts his vote at a polling station in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone on April 30, 2014

Nuri al-Maliki casts his vote at a polling station in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone on April 30, 2014Nuri al-Maliki casts his vote at a polling station in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone on April 30, 2014

Nuri al-Maliki may be in pole position to remain Iraq's prime minister, but allegations of malpractice during last month's polls are clouding the prospect of forming a government anytime soon.

Key rivals of the premier, from inside and outside his Shiite community, allege irregularities at the polling stations, as well as problems with the transport of ballot boxes and vote counting, potentially delaying the certification of results, or even changing final tallies.

Maliki's bloc emerged from the April 30 vote with by far the most seats in parliament, nearly three times as many as his nearest opponent, though his State of Law alliance fell short of an absolute majority on its own.

That means he will need to court support from rival blocs, many of whom have publicly said they will not countenance a third term for a prime minister they allege has consolidated power and is responsible for deteriorating security.

"By Thursday (May 22), we had received 30 complaints from candidates and parties," said Mohsen al-Mussawi, a board member on Iraq's election commission.

Mussawi said at least three major parties had submitted challenges.

They were the Sunni Arab Mutahidoon bloc of parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, the secular Sunni-backed Wataniya party led by ex-premier Iyad Allawi, and the Shiite Muslim Citizens grouping that is seen as close to Iran.

The complaints will be considered by a committee of senior judges, who will then rule on their validity. No firm timeline has been set for the process.

All three parties, and several others, have said they will not support a third term for Maliki.

Following 2010 elections which saw him finish a narrow second to Allawi's now-defunct Iraqiya bloc, the premier called for, and successfully obtained, a manual recount of all votes that meant final results were not certified until months after ballots were cast.

Though the results remained the same, Maliki later managed to out-manoeuvre Allawi to secure backing for a national unity government under his leadership, with a cabinet eventually being sworn in nine months after elections.

- Reversal of Fortunes -

In a reversal of fortunes from the last elections, Allawi is now among those calling for a manual nationwide recount.

"I call on political leaders to stand seriously against counterfeiting," he said in a statement. "I demand a manual recount and punishment for all those who have hurt the democratic process."

His Wataniya bloc have alleged that the election commission was under the sway of "powerful political parties", and blamed it for "clear biases."

Nujaifi, meanwhile, said in his own statement that Mutahidoon had observed "many violations", while a spokesman for the Citizens bloc has also alleged malpractice.

"Power and state finances were used in the election campaign to win votes," the party's spokesman Daligh Abu Gilal told AFP. "A huge amount of land was distributed to citizens and promises of jobs were made by candidates who are in power."

"All of these are clear violations."

The premier stands accused of consolidating power, particularly within the security forces, and the opposition blames him for a year-long deterioration in security and say the quality of life has not improved enough.

Voters also often complain of poor electricity and sewerage services, rampant corruption, high unemployment and a litany of other concerns.

Maliki, however, has urged his rivals to accept the results and diplomats have called on the country's political leaders to begin work towards forming a government.

Iraq's political parties have already begun meeting and manoeuvring as they seek to build post-election alliances, but forming a new government could still take months.

As in previous elections, the main blocs are expected to agree on an encompassing package that ensures the prime minister, president and parliament speaker are all selected together.

Under a de facto agreement, the prime minister is a Shiite Arab, the president is a Kurd and the speaker of parliament is a Sunni Arab.

"The result of the election should be accepted transparently, and in the spirit of forgiveness," Maliki said in his most recent weekly televised address.

"We should not listen to suspicious accusations here and there."

Date created : 2014-05-25