Iraq rivals in tight poll race

BAGHDAD: Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and main rival Iyad Allawi were neck-and-neck today, with updated results showing their blocs in a tight race to be the largest faction in the Iraqi parliament.

Maliki’s State of Law Alliance led Allawi’s Iraqiya list by just 40,000 votes nationwide, according to updated results based on 83 percent of ballots counted, as the incumbent’s bloc alleged fraud and demanded a recount. But Iraqiya was on pace to garner 90 seats in the 325-member Council of Representatives compared with State of Law’s 89, according to an AFP calculation. Ballots cast outside Iraq and during special voting for the security forces, the sick and prisoners have not yet been fully tabulated by electoral commission.