Page last updated at 17:24 GMT, Saturday, 20 March 2010

Iraq's Iyad Allawi urges swifter election result


Iyad Allawi: "We need to have a fast and transparant declaration of the results"

The narrow leader in the race to become Iraq's next prime minister says poll results are taking too long to declare.

Iyad Allawi, who headed the country from 2004 to 2005, told the BBC full results from the 7 March election should have been released days ago.

Mr Allawi has a slim lead over current Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.

But analysts say the count is so tight that a hectic period of coalition-building is likely to ensue once the results have been announced.

With more than 90% of the votes counted, Mr Allawi's Iraqiya political bloc is ahead by nearly 8,000 votes.

But Mr Maliki's State of Law alliance is ahead in seven of 18 provinces - meaning he stands to get more representation in a future parliament.

Purge promise

"They should have declared the full results a few days back," Mr Allawi told the BBC.

"I said after the election finished that we need to have transparency and a very fast declaration of the results, before people start thinking what is happening is wrong."

He repeated his accusations that the election had been "grossly mismanaged" and that tens of thousands of people had been denied the chance to vote.

An election campaign poster for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, in Baghdad, 17 March
PM Nouri Maliki sought to cast himself as a strong nationalist in campaigning

Mr Allawi also set out his vision for Iraq, should he form the next government, saying that the police force was so "riddled with sectarianism" it could not function.

"I'll purge the armed forces and secret services of sectarian elements," he said.

And Mr Allawi, a Shia who heads a secular alliance, accused Mr Maliki of sectarianism and ruled out working with him unless he changed his outlook.

Mr Maliki, also a Shia, dropped some of his most prominent backers from the religious parties during his re-election campaign in a bid to cast himself as a strong nationalist.

Vote counting has been dogged by technical problems and claims of fraud - although observers have largely approved of the conduct of the election.

Final results - after complaints have been investigated - are due by the end of the month.

The US military is scheduled to withdraw all its combat troops from Iraq in less than six months, leaving the next administration with the huge task of ensuring the security of the strife-torn nation.

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