Official: Iraq vote fraud minor

Iraq's Electoral Commission has annulled results from 227 ballot boxes, but said this would have little effect on 15 December election results.

    Iraqis voted to elect a new parliament on 15 December

    Final results - based on tallies from some 31,000 ballot boxes -would be published on Friday, Electoral Commissioner Adel al-Lamy told Reuters, saying these would be in line with partial, provisional counts given some weeks ago.    

    "We have annulled 227 ballot boxes which did not comply with
    international standards; they had been tampered with. But this will have no effect on the results," Lamy said on Monday. 

    "Final results will be announced on Friday," he added, 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. 

    Sunnis 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 Shia  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 organisation to which the experts belong has, like the United Nations, already said the vote was largely fair.    

    "We have annulled 227 ballot boxes which did not comply with
    international standards; they had been tampered with. But this will have no effect on the results"

    Adel al-Lamy,
    Electoral commissioner

    Near final tallies of seat allocations, obtained by Reuters,
    show that the Shia 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.

    More violence

    Elsewhere, a bomb exploded near a convoy of civilian vehicles in Baghdad on Monday, triggering a shoot-out between Iraqi police and fighters, but nobody was hurt in the violence, a police officer said.

    The US military says it is
    investigating the helicopter crash

    The explosion was the first in the city centre after a week-long Muslim holiday lull.

    Four four-wheel drive cars, frequently used by foreign security contractors and diplomats to move around Baghdad, were targeted in the attack, the police officer on the scene told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    It was not immediately clear who had been travelling in the convoy, which appeared to have been escorted by two overhead helicopters.

    "After the explosion, insurgents in a nearby building started shooting at the convoy," the police officer said.

    "Iraqi police returned fire. We then stormed the building but were unable to find any of the culprits."

    The bomb only caused minimal damage to one of the vehicles in the convoy, the officer said.

    Earlier, an Interior Ministry official said US and Iraqi forces had been involved in the shooting. A US military spokesman said he was looking into the report of the explosion.

    In other violence, a policeman was killed in the north of the capital and one civilian and another policemen were wounded in a roadside bomb explosion in the west of Baghdad.

    On Sunday, police found the bodies of seven unidentified men shot to death in the capital.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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