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Iraq elections

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An Iraqi court has ordered a limited recount of the March 7 parliamentary elections, which could drag out a final determination and delay forming a government.


A three-member court directed the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission to recount the 2.5 million votes cast in Baghdad. The second count could alter the outcome of the election and swing it in favor of Prime Minister Nuri Jamal al-Maliki, who has claimed widespread fraud after his party narrowly lost to the opposition alliance headed by Ayad Allawi, a former prime minister.


The initial national tally gave Mr. Allawi 91 parliamentary seats, just two seats more than Prime Minister Maliki.


Neither bloc won a majority in Parliament, but the leading candidate would have the first opportunity to form a ruling coalition, which would set the direction of the country for the next four years.


It would also determine the role of the various ethnic and religious groups in the government. The minority Sunnis generally supported Mr. Allawi, whose alliance candidates were more inclusive with Sunnis.


The court's ruling applied only to the Baghdad province but other challenges are pending that could expand the recount. Officials and international observers election fear delays could cause instability and violent repercussions.


It is important that the issue be resolved peacefully and quickly to allow continued withdrawal of U.S. forces.

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