A vote recount that could alter who becomes Iraq’s next Prime Minister is underway, two months after the country’s disputed parliamentary election.
Officials say it will affect some 2.5 million ballots and could take up to three weeks.
Fraud allegations marred the March 7th poll, prompting current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to call for the recount after he was narrowly beaten by rival Iyad Allawi.
The Electoral Commission rejected his request that five provinces be looked at again, only allowing a recount in Baghdad.
EU and UN observers are monitoring the whole procedure.
Allawi, who leads the secular Iraqiya coalition, won 91 seats in Iraq’s parliament in March’s vote, just two more than al-Maliki.
163 seats are needed to form a new government with the Baghdad area providing 70 of them.
Al-Maliki took 26 of those in the Iraqi capital but that margin could grow after the recount.
The recent election was the second since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq that ousted Saddam Hussein from power.