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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 January 2006, 18:00 GMT
Monitors begin Iraq poll review
An Iraqi election an official registers ballot boxes in Baghdad
The monitors will review electoral complaints and verify results
A team of international monitors in Iraq have begun to review complaints of fraud and voter intimidation during last month's parliamentary elections.

The International Mission for Iraqi Elections is expected to spend several days studying the allegations made by many Sunni Arab and secular parties.

Early results suggest the governing Shia and Kurdish alliances have won the majority of votes.

The final results are expected once the monitors have completed their review.

The United Nations has said the poll was transparent and fair, and that a rerun would not be necessary.


According to a statement issued by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI), the international monitors will conduct an additional assessment of a report they submitted after the election on 15 December.

275-seat National Assembly will have four-year term
18 provinces are taken as separate constituencies
230 seats allocated according to population
45 seats distributed to parties whose ethnic, religious or political support is spread over more than one province
15 million eligible voter
One third of candidates in each party must be women

The assessment will include a review of post-election complaints as well as the verification of the results conducted by the IECI.

"Two of the team's five members are already at work," Adel al-Lami, a member of the IECI, told the AFP news agency.

"They will also meet with representatives from political parties which have raised objections to the results and look into their complaints."

Mr Lami said that after investigating 1,980 complaints, the IECI would annul the results of between 50 to 70 ballot boxes, just 0.2% of the total.

The US ambassador in Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, has given his full support to the election monitors.

"It is important that the Iraqi people have confidence in the election results and that the voting process, including the process for vote counting, is free and fair," he said.

"When there are complaints, there has to be a credible process for dealing with them," he added.

"The new permanent government of Iraq needs to be established in a process of utmost transparency."

Elections 'rigged'

The Maram alliance, a grouping of some 42 mainly Sunni Arab and secular political entities which claim the elections were fraudulent, has welcomed the international monitors but continues to criticise the Iraqi election commission.

Ali al-Tamimi speaks at a Maram conference
Sunni Arab and secular parties have welcomed the monitors

Maram, meaning goal, is an Arabic acronym for the Conference Rejecting Rigged Elections (Mutamar Rafadi al-Intikhabat al-Muzawwara).

The alliance includes the Iraqi Accord Front, the Iraqi Front for National Dialogue and former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's secular Iraqi National List.

Ali al-Tamimi, a spokesman for Maram, said last week it had "worked hard to expose the details of the electoral rigging and the bad performance of the [IECI], which was supposed to be independent."

Mr Tamimi said the IECI lacked credibility and that it had "become a cover for rigging and stealing votes".

Maram will not boycott Iraq's new parliament, the Council of Representatives, but will "continue to reject the rigging phenomenon", Mr Tamimi added.

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