Iraq opposition alleges flagrant poll fraud

BAGHDAD: A senior member of Iraq’s main secular opposition bloc today protested against blatant fraud in favour of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki during Iraq’s general election last weekend.

The national election commission, meanwhile, said the claims of fraud were either politically motivated or fuelled by lack of understanding of the counting procedures. But it would nevertheless investigate any complaints it received.

“There has been clear and flagrant fraud,” said Intisar Allawi, a senior candidate in ex-prime minister Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc, the main rival to Maliki’s State of Law Alliance. “There were persons who manipulated or changed the figures to increase the vote in favour of the State of Law Alliance.” She said that Iraqiya’s own election observers for last Sunday’s poll had found ballot papers in garbage dumps in the northern disputed province of Kirkuk.

But Iyad al-Kinaani, an official in Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission, told AFP such claims were fuelled by political motivations or a lack of understanding of the count.

“When we receive any accusations and there are problems, we block the ballot box and start an investigation,” Kinaani said.

“We are used to receiving these accusations from political blocs because either they do not know our procedures or they have not had good results in the election.