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Iraqis Still Await Parliamentary Election Results

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Iraqis Still Await Parliamentary Election Results

Iraq

Iraqis Still Await Parliamentary Election Results

Iraqis Still Await Parliamentary Election Results

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Political dealings continue in Iraq, despite the fact that politicians are not entirely sure where they stand with voters. Results from last month's parliamentary election have been delayed by charges of fraud. An international monitoring group is expected to announce findings Thursday in their investigation of those charges.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

We don't know much yet about a helicopter that has crashed in Iraq, but here's what we do know so far. The chopper crashed today just north of Baghdad. Two people were killed. And we're told this is the third downing of a chopper in the past 10 days. Cause of the crash is under investigation. There are unconfirmed eyewitness reports of missiles being fired at that chopper.

Now as the violence in Iraq continues, so does the political dealing, though politicians are not entirely sure yet where they stand with voters. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro joins us on the line from Baghdad.

And, Lourdes, it's been more than a month now since Iraq's election, but the final results are not in. Why not?

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO reporting:

The main thing is--that's delayed the results coming out are the charges by secularists and Sunni Arab groups that there was massive electoral fraud in Baghdad and in the South of Iraq. An international monitoring group is here right now; they're looking comprehensively into the allegations. They are expected to distribute their findings on Thursday. So everything has pretty much been on hold until those allegations are addressed.

Now the Sunni groups are alleging that the main Shiite list used coercion, ballot stuffing and other undemocratic tactics, as they call it, to boost their votes. We did hear reports, for example, on the day from foreign journalists in Basra that the police were using loudspeakers to urge voters to cast their ballot in support of the United Iraqi Alliance, the main Shiite list. So until this is resolved, most of the politicking has been low key.

INSKEEP: Well, now let me ask about this because this was an effort to get Sunni Arabs involved in the political process and to make them feel that they had a legitimate voice even if they didn't win the elections. Did these allegations of fraud undermine that effort?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, it depends what the international monitors say. Now their decision is not binding. However, all the main players have said that they will respect their word as kind of the last word if there was fraud here. We are not expecting them to make any real changes into the outcome of the vote. We're not expecting there to have to be new elections, for example, or even elections have to take place again in the contested areas. However, we have to really wait and see what they say. But it certainly does raise a big question mark over the whole process here, and I think it's only a signal of things to come.

INSKEEP: So based on what you do know, who are the winners and losers here?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We've heard that the Shiite bloc was the biggest winner again, followed by the Kurdish list; that was expected. The Sunni groups got about 20 percent of the vote. There are a few big questions: first, whether the Shiites and the Kurds have enough votes to form their own government, as they did this last time. Now an American official has speculated that they are one seat shy of that, but I've spoken to some Kurdish leaders who say that they will have enough seats.

But the idea that is gripping hold now is of a broad consensus-based government. This is something that is being pushed hard by the Kurds, who want Sunnis and Shiites to be represented as a way to try and build a legitimate coalition that will incorporate all of the Iraqi groups and thus eventually, I guess, quell the insurgency.

Now the big losers have been the secular groups, no doubt about it. These are represented by people like Ayad Allawi. They did not do well. And everyone I've spoken to says that this is another example of how sectarian and ethnic loyalties have triumphed again in this election.

INSKEEP: Can I just ask--if you have a consensus government, that would require, it would seem, that different people would more or less agree on something. Do Shiite leaders, Sunni Arab leaders and Kurdish leaders see themselves with enough in common that they could govern by consensus?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's a very good question. I think, as one of the players told me, there are no more milestones left in Iraq and this time we're playing for keeps. And I think that says very clearly that at this point everyone is trying to get what they can. This will be a government that will be in place for four years. There's no more elections left; there's nothing left, you know, to kind of move towards. They now have to deal with each other. And I think that is something that they're realizing. But at the same time, there are a lot of contentious issues that have to be ironed out, so it's going to be a tough fight. And I think everyone I've spoken to has made that very clear.

INSKEEP: We've been talking to NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro in Baghdad.

Lourdes, thanks very much.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Thank you.

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