Wed, Jan 04, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Iraq's main Sunni group agrees on coalition plan

BREAKTHROUGH With results of the Dec. 15 elections two weeks away, the nation's main Sunni group agreed with the Kurds on the basic outlines of a government

AP , BAGHDAD

The final results from Iraq's Dec. 15 parliamentary elections may not be announced for two more weeks, an election official said yesterday, a day after Iraq's main Sunni Arab group agreed for the first time on broad outlines for a coalition government.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IECI) of Iraq has completed its investigation of almost 2,000 election complaints and will announce the findings today, commission member Hussein Hindawi told reporters.

But the commission will not announce final election results until an international team finishes its work, meaning results might not be ready for two weeks, said IECI member Safwat Rashid. Officials previously said final results would be announced early this month.

The commission investigated 1,980 complaints, including 50 that were considered serious enough to alter results in some districts, an election official said.

The international team, which began its work Monday, agreed to review Iraq's elections after protests by Sunni Arab and secular Shiite groups that the polls were tainted with fraud.

Preliminary results give the governing Shiite religious bloc, the United Iraqi Alliance, a big lead, but one which still would require forming a coalition with other groups.

Elsewhere, Iraqi police in Beiji, 250km north of Baghdad, said US aircraft bombed a house on Monday night and that seven people were killed and four injured, Captain Arkan Jassim said.

The US military had no immediate comment on the alleged airstrike or deaths, but the US Central Command said in a press release that Navy F-14s in the vicinity of Beiji strafed a target and dropped a precision-guided bomb "against insurgents placing an improvised explosive device."

As part of the bargaining for a new coalition government, President Jalal Talabani assured Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari on Monday that his fellow Kurds would not object if the United Iraqi Alliance -- the Shiite religious bloc that won the most votes in the election -- again nominates him for the prime minister post.

But it was the deal struck by Kurdistan regional President Massoud Barzani and representatives of the main Sunni Arab Iraqi Accordance Front that opened the way for a new broad-based government. It also drew the ire of minority parties and secular groups.

"They will be part of a future government," said Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd who sat in on the meetings.

Sunni Arabs and secular parties, such as the one headed by Shiite former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, have complained the elections were tainted by fraud and intimidation. They have demanded a new vote in some provinces, including Baghdad.

With the agreement, the Accordance Front seems to have broken a pact to only discuss those complaints during their meetings with the Kurds. Opposition groups are waiting for the team of international monitors to assess the elections. The UN has called the vote credible.

The International Mission for Iraqi Elections said it helped monitor the elections in Baghdad and was "assisted by monitors from countries of the European Union working under IMIE's umbrella."

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