Sunni Arabs alleged Tuesday that last week’s parliamentary elections
were fraudulent, especially in Baghdad province, and they said if the irregularities
are not corrected, new balloting must be held in Iraq’s largest electoral
An electoral commission official said more than 1,000 complaints from the Dec.
15 vote were being investigated, but only 20 were “very serious,”
and were not expected to change the overall outcome. Final results will be announced
in early January, he said, which would delay formation of a new government.
The United Iraqi Alliance _ a Shiite party _ won about 59 percent of the vote,
according to returns from 89 percent of ballot boxes counted in Baghdad province.
The Sunni Arab Iraqi Accordance Front received about 19 percent, and the Iraqi
National List headed by Ayad Allawi, a secular-minded Shiite, got about 14 percent.
The general director of Iraq’s electoral commission, Adel al-Lami, told
The Associated Press that officials didn’t announce the results of the
remaining 11 percent because of complaints of irregularities. He refused to
The Iraqi Accordance Front, a coalition of three major Sunni groups, rejected
those results, warning of “grave repercussions on security and political
stability” if the mistakes were not corrected.
Preliminary returns showed Iraqi voters divided along ethnic and religious
lines with a commanding lead held by the religious Shiite coalition that dominates
the current government, even though Sunnis turned out in large numbers after
boycotting previous elections.
U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, noting those results, said Iraq needs a broad-based
government that crosses that divide if it is to succeed and prosper.
“Sectarianism undercuts prospects for success and increases the risk
for conflict among sects,” Khalilzad said.
If Sunnis are marginalized politically, it could cement divisions in Iraq and
undermine U.S. hopes of a quick return to stability that would allow for the
eventual withdrawal of American troops.
The Sunni officials registering complaints about the vote concentrated their
protests on results from Baghdad province, the biggest electoral district.
“It was obvious to us that the forgery and the falsification have been
taking place even before the opening of the ballot boxes,” the Iraqi Accordance
The group said it considered the results “a falsification of the will
of the people.”
If no measures are taken, “we will demand that the elections be held
again in Baghdad,” said Adnan al-Dulaimi, head of the Sunni alliance.
“If this demand is not met, then we will resort to other measures.”
A senior member of the United Iraqi Alliance, Jawad al-Maliki, responded that
the Sunnis needed to respect the outcome. “Democracy means accepting the
opinion of the majority,” he said.
Electoral commission official Farid Ayar said more than 1,000 complaints had
been received, describing 20 as “very serious.” He would not elaborate
on them, but added that although they could cancel the votes cast at a particular
polling station, they were not expected to alter the overall election results
“We are studying all of them, we have two or three committees studying
them. They are serious and they may change the results, but I don’t think
the complaints will make a big change in the overall result,” he said.
There were more than 33,000 polling stations in Iraq 18 provinces. “If
we have a serious violation at four polling stations, that is not many voters,”
Final results won’t be ready before early January, instead of late December,
in order to investigate the complaints, he said.
Ayar, who pledged the commission “will present anything, we can’t
hide anything from the people,” also said he saw nothing unusual in the
“We hear various statements by the political alliances, coalitions, parties
and entities. This is a normal thing in all elections. There are those who win
and those who don’t win,” he said. “We respect all opinions,
but these are the numbers we have. We deal with numbers. We have no intention
of forging anything or adding to anything.”
Khalilzad said there had been 20 serious complaints as of Monday that could
affect the outcome.
Also lodging a protest was Ibrahim al-Janabi, an official of Allawi’s
Iraqi National List.
“The elections commission is not independent. It is influenced by political
parties and by the government,” he said. “We announce that we have
reservations about the counting of the ballots in the commission. We demand
that the process be transparent.”
Among Al-Dulaimi’s complaints were that some voting centers didn’t
open or were too far away; that some voters were listed on the rolls twice and
could have voted more than once; and that some who voted were not registered.
President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, said that while the election was largely
successful, some 25,000 residents of the northern town of Sulaimaniyah weren’t
on voter rolls despite having cast ballots in previous polling.
The results for the 275-member parliament from 11 provinces showed the United
Iraqi Alliance winning strong majorities in Baghdad and largely Shiite southern
Kurdish parties were overwhelmingly ahead in their three northern provinces,
while results from one of the four predominantly Sunni provinces, Salahuddin,
showed the Sunnis winning an overwhelming majority.
Early vote tallies suggested disappointing results for a secular party led
by Allawi, a former prime minister and a U.S. favorite who hoped to bridge the
often violent divide that has emerged between followers of rival branches of
Still, the United Iraqi Alliance was unlikely to win the two-thirds majority,
or at least 184 seats, needed to avoid a coalition with other parties.
A senior official in the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq,
one of the main groups in the alliance, said it was expecting to get about 130
Jon Alterman, a Middle East expert at the Center for Strategic and International
Studies in Washington, said a likely outcome of the political process will be
a Kurdish-Shiite alliance with “token” Sunni participation.
In new reports of violence, a joint Iraqi-American patrol on the outskirts
of Fallujah found the bodies of 14 people, some of whom were handcuffed and
appeared to have been tortured, said Dr. Mohammed Hameed of the Fallujah hospital.
A driver for the Jordanian Embassy, was kidnapped while driving to work, Jordanian
Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit said.
Mahmoud Suleiman Saidat, a Jordanian, was “kidnapped by 15 masked men
near his residence” in Baghdad’s southern neighborhood of Sadiya,
al-Bakhit told parliament. He said Jordan was “seriously considering”
moving its embassy in Baghdad to either Fallujah or to inside the Green Zone,
the high security area inside Baghdad.