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Friday, March 26

Yippee! Democracy wins out in Iraq!

VOA March 26 4:40 PM ET:
Iraq's electoral commission has announced final results of the March 7 parliamentary election and in a surprise, the bloc led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi won 91 seats in the parliament, two more than the coalition led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who says he does not accept the results.
It's no surprise to me; Iraqis just got tired of Iranian vote stuffing. Tehran's flunky al-Malaki is terribly upset. Aw. Where is my Kleenex box?

Will violence follow? We'll see soon enough what Tehran has up its sleeve. For now, I celebrate; a lot of American blood and treasure went into getting Iraq to the point where free and fair elections could be held in the country without Iranian influence running the show. So this is great day for the USA as well as Iraq -- and for the entire Middle East not to mention democracy itself:
The long-awaited results of the Iraqi parliamentary election surprised and angered some and brought cheer to others.

As the top vote-getter, Mr. Allawi will be given 30 days to try and form the next Iraqi government. If he fails to do so, President Jalal Talabani will chose the leader of another political bloc to try and form a government.

Prime Minister al-Maliki spoke immediately after the results were announced and with a grave tone repeated his call for a manual recount of the election results:

He says that Iraq's future as a democratic state is riding on the results of this election and there must be a manual recount to ensure a total transparency of the results.

Prime Minister al-Maliki says he would attempt to form the next government, along with the Kurdish alliance of President Jalal Talabani and any other political blocs that would join in.

Members of his coalition surrounded him in solidarity, as he spoke to the media.

Despite the prime minister's demand for a manual recount, U.N. representative Ad Melkart insisted that all polling stations were subject to repeated recounts and that no systematic fraud was detected:

"All results of almost 50,000 voting stations have been checked at least 8 times," said Ad Melkart. "On the basis of specific complaints submitted by different entities, specific audits have been held in places with indications of irregularities. Ballot boxes that could not stand the test have not been included in the count. We have not found evidence of systematic failure or fraud of widespread nature. The U.N. calls on all candidates and entities to accept the results."

Judge Qassem al Abboudi of the electoral commission told Iraqi politicians that the final results of the March 7 parliamentary election would be published in three newspapers and that candidates would have three days to take complaints to the courts.

Both Shi'ite and Sunni Moslem religious leaders urged their followers during Friday prayers in mosques across the country to remain calm and not to respond to any perceived provocations.

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill expressed confidence in the integrity of the vote count and urged all political blocs to "conduct talks on the formation of the new government in a spirit of cooperation..and to refrain from inflammatory rhetoric or action."

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