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Page last updated at 11:51 GMT, Thursday, 25 March 2010

Iraq parliamentary election recount 'unnecessary'

Iraq vote count 10 March 2010
International observers have largely approved of the conduct of the election

The head of Iraq's election commission has ruled out a manual recount of all the votes in the country's parliamentary election.

This comes the day before overall election result is due to be released.

Commission head Faraj al-Haydari told the BBC that no political party has shown any evidence that such a recount was needed.

Supporters of incumbent Prime Minister Nouri Maliki have staged protests calling for a recount.

Mr Maliki is in a tight race with his main rival, the former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

I think Maliki or President Talabani have the right to suggest... We listen to them. We can discuss with them. We can explain to them but we don't take orders. This is law. It's an election
Faraj al-Haydari

Last week, President Jalal Talabani and Mr Maliki backed calls for a manual recount of votes.

When he made the demand, Mr Maliki's language warning of threats to stability and invoking his position as commander in chief, raised concerns he might not accept the result.

BBC Baghdad correspondent Andrew North says the Iraqi election commission remains under intense pressure.

Mr Haydari, the election commission head, told the BBC: "I think Maliki or President Talabani have the right to suggest. Anyone has the right to suggest but I think we go and work according to the law. We listen to them. We can discuss with them. We can explain to them but we don't take orders. This is law. It's an election."

Fears

Our correspondent says many Iraqis have been impressed at the commission's resolve with pressure coming from all sides including from Iyad Allawi the main challenger.

But fears of renewed violence remain after the results are announced with the prospect of months of talks before a new Iraqi government can finally take office.

With just over 90% of the votes counted, IHEC said on Saturday that Mr Allawi's Iraqiya political bloc was ahead by nearly 8,000 votes nationwide.

But Mr Maliki's State of Law alliance was ahead in seven of 18 provinces - meaning he stands to get more representation in a future parliament as seats are allocated based on the outcome in each province.

International observers have largely approved of the conduct of the election.

The 7 March election is regarded as a crucial test for Iraq's national reconciliation process as well as the US's plan to stage the withdrawal of its military.



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