Sunni Arabs call Baghdad election results fraudulent, demand redress

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
By JASON STRAZIUSO - Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq - (AP) Sunni Arabs on Tuesday protested the partial
election results released a day earlier, calling them a "falsification of
the will of the people" and saying evidence of fraud was abundant.
Assailants kidnapped a driver for Jordan's embassy.
Sunni Arab officials suggested that the country's security and
stability were at stake if their complaints about last week's parliamentary
vote were not addressed. Officials concentrated their protests on results
from Baghdad province, the country's biggest electoral district.
Election officials said the United Iraqi Alliance _ a Shiite party _
took about 59 percent of the vote 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.
Adnan al-Dulaimi, head of the Iraqi Accordance Front, a coalition of
three major Sunni Arab groups, said his party rejected those results. The
party said officials still had time to correct any mistakes, but if that
wasn't done the results would be "grave repercussions on security and
political stability."
If no measure are taken, "then we will demand that the elections be
held again in Baghdad," he said. "If this demand is not met, then we will
resort to other measures."
The U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, acknowledged Tuesday
that there had been 20 "red" _ or serious _ complaints as of Monday that
could affect the vote outcome.
"Final results will not be announced until those red complaints are
looked at," he said.
Also protesting the results 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."
A senior member of the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance, Jawad
al-Maliki, responded that the Sunnis needed to respect the outcome at the
ballot box.
"Democracy means accepting the opinion of the majority," he said.
Elsewhere, Mahmoud Ziyadat, a driver for Jordan's embassy, was
kidnapped after his car was "intercepted" by three vehicles as he was
driving to work Tuesday morning, Jordanian government spokesman Nasser Judeh
said in Amman.
Preliminary election 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.
The preliminary results for the 275-member parliament from 11
provinces showed the United Iraqi Alliance winning strong majorities in
Baghdad and largely Shiite provinces in the south.
Kurdish parties were overwhelmingly ahead in their three northern
provinces, while results from one of the four predominantly Sunni Arab
provinces, Salahuddin, showed the Sunni Arab minority winning an
overwhelming majority.
Early vote tallies suggested disappointing results for a secular
party led by Allawai, 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 Islam since the fall of Saddam.
As expected, religious groups, both Shiite and Sunni, were leading
in many areas _ an indication that Iraqis may have grown more religious or
Still, the ruling Shiite coalition _ known as 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 United Iraqi Alliance, said the
alliance was expecting to get about 130 seats.
The alliance is headed by cleric Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, one of the
most powerful figures in the country.
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.
"Having power is one thing but tolerating not having power is going
to make or break these elections," he said.
U.S. officials hope a coalition government involving Sunni Arabs
will weaken a Sunni-led insurgency. Sunnis, a minority group favored under
Saddam, voted heavily on Thursday after boycotting earlier elections.
In other developments:
_ Gunmen in the southern town of Buhriz, a former Saddam stronghold
about 60 kilometers (35 miles) north of Baghdad, opened fire on a car late
Monday, killing four women and wounding three women and two children,
Diyalaa police said.
_ Gunmen in southern Baghdad on Tuesday killed a member of the Badr
organization, the former military wing of the Supreme Council of the Islamic
Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI, Capt. Taleb Thamer of the Baghdad police said.

_ A policeman was killed by gunmen in Baghdad, police Lt. Thaer
Mahmoud said.
_ Gunmen killed two police officers in Baqouba, 60 kilometers (35
miles) northeast of Baghdad, Diyalaa police said.
_ Ukraine began the final withdrawal of its remaining 876 troops on
Tuesday. The government began withdrawing the troops in March. President
Viktor Yushchenko made a pullout from Iraq one of his campaign promises.