Former prime minister Iyad Allawi has been declared the winner of the election in Iraq.
The results give Allawi’s party 91 seats to the current prime minister Nuri al-Maliki’s 89. The United Nations has already said the result is “credible”, and it came nearly two hours later than scheduled, keeping Iraqis on the edge of their seats.
Hours before the results were announced hundreds of supporters of the prime minister gathered in front of Baghdad’s provincial government building to support his call for a manual recount, shouting “No to fraud,” and “Where have our votes gone?”
Nuri al-Maliki had been engaged in a close race during the count. The last published partial results put his State of Law coalition only 11,000 votes behind former prime minister Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiya group.
Allawi’s secularist coalition, along with all the other 10 parties involved in the 7th of March vote, has alleged irregularities in the election, but it is Maliki and his supporters who have complained the loudest, and most often.
The main worry is that if the results are rejected there could be a resumption of violence. At best, there could be a prolonged political vacuum. After the last election in 2005 there was a more than five-month hiatus before a government could be formed. Tens of thousands of people were killed in sectarian clashes.
There has already been more violence in Iraq. 42 people died and 65 were injured some 80 kilometres north of Baghdad in the mainly Sunni Diyala province when two bombs exploded in the town of Khalis.