BAGHDAD, (Reuters) – A United Nations official said on Friday he saw no reason to rerun last week”s Iraqi election despite allegations by Sunni Arab and secular parties of fraud.
At least two dozen disgruntled Iraqi parties, including the biggest Sunni and secular blocs, formally demanded a new vote on Thursday after partial results from the Dec. 15 poll showed they had done worse than expected and that Shi”ite Islamists had again triumphed and might win a majority in parliament.
But Craig Jenness, U.N. adviser to the Electoral Commission, said he doubted complaints now being investigated would lead to scrapping the results of Iraq”s first postwar election for a full-term parliament and holding a new vote.
"I don”t see anything that would necessitate a rerun," he told Reuters. "There have been around 1,500 complaints, which the commission is in the process of examining, but out of 30,000 ballot boxes that”s not such a big number.
"The decision on a rerun rests with the Electoral Commission but I”d be very suprised if there was one," Jenness said.
Iraqi parties upset by partial results have threatened to boycott the four-year parliament if they do not get their way, saying the "biased" Electoral Commission should be disbanded.
One Sunni Arab leader said the parties would complain to the Arab League, the European Union and the United Nations.
Jenness said it was natural some parties would be unhappy with the results.
"There were nearly 7,000 candidates standing in this election and only 275 seats, so you”re always going to have winners and losers and it”s normal that the losers won”t always be happy about it," he said.
The commission has labelled only a tiny fraction of the complaints as "red", or serious enough to affect the count, and Western diplomats in Baghdad have said even those are unlikely to have a significant effect on the results.
By Thursday, only 37 red complaints were being studied, one source close to the count said.
U.S. officials appear to be working to persuade minority parties that it is in their best interests to join a coalition with the Shi”ites, who currently form the backbone of the government and seem certain to do so again.
Washington has been hoping that the parliamentary election, the first to attract widespread Sunni Arab participation in postwar Iraq, would help convince the minority community dominant under Saddam Hussein that it could gain a say in the country”s future through the ballot box, not the gun.