Tue, Jan 17, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Iraq election complaints upheld, with negligible effect

AGENCIES , BAGHDAD

Iraq's Electoral Commission annulled results from 227 ballot boxes yesterday, upholding complaints of irregularities in the Dec. 15 election, but said this would have little effect on results already announced.

Final results -- based on tallies from some 31,000 ballot boxes -- would be published on Friday, Electoral Commissioner Adel al-Lamy said adding these would be in line with partial, provisional counts given some weeks ago and noting that political parties would have two days after that to lodge protests before the results can be certified as definitive.

Irregularities were found across the country, Lamy added.

Sunni Arab and secular parties complained of massive fraud in the election but Sunni leaders have already begun discussing joining a grand coalition government with the dominant Shiite Islamists and the Kurdish bloc.

In a bid to appease protests, a four-strong team of international experts was brought in to review the election process; the team has said it will publish its findings on Thursday. The organization to which the experts belong has, like the UN, already said the vote was largely fair.

Near final tallies of seat allocations show that the Shiite Alliance will fall about nine seats short of the absolute majority it had in the 275-member interim assembly, which was boycotted by the main Sunni groups.

Sunni and Kurdish parties will have about a fifth of the seats each.

Meanwhile a helicopter crashed north of Baghdad yesterday, but the status of the two-man crew wasn't immediately known It was not immediately known what caused the helicopter to crash.

In further violence, a car bomb detonated next to a police convoy killing six people.

Police and hospital officials said the bomb killed a six-year-old child and five police officers in Muqdadiya, about 90km north of the capital.

Elsewhere, the tribunal overseeing the trial of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein case confirmed on Sunday that Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin submitted his resignation for ``personal reasons'' and not because of government pressure. It said the trial of Saddam and seven co-defendants would reconvene Jan. 24 as scheduled despite the uncertainties surrounding Amin.

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