Sunnis Allege Major Fraud in Iraqi Elections Two major Sunni parties and the secular coalition of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi claim to have proof of fraud and ballot stuffing in Iraq's parliamentary election. It's reported at least 20 claims are significant enough to affect the polls' outcome. Results now aren't expected until early January.
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Sunnis Allege Major Fraud in Iraqi Elections

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Sunnis Allege Major Fraud in Iraqi Elections

Sunnis Allege Major Fraud in Iraqi Elections

Sunnis Allege Major Fraud in Iraqi Elections

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Two major Sunni parties and the secular coalition of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi claim to have proof of fraud and ballot stuffing in Iraq's parliamentary election. It's reported at least 20 claims are significant enough to affect the polls' outcome. Results now aren't expected until early January.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

One day after partial results for Iraq's national elections were released, already some political parties are crying foul. The Shiite Alliance, which held the majority of seats in the provisional government, swept the vote in most Shiite-dominated areas in last week's poll, but the area of greatest contention is the capital, Baghdad. It's there that most seats were up for grabs and there that the other candidates had expected to do better. NPR's Jamie Tarabay has this report from Baghdad.

JAMIE TARABAY reporting:

The leading Sunni groups did not wait even a day to mobilize and protest. They announced a press conference only hours after Iraqi election officials revealed the early results for Baghdad that gave the Shiite Alliance nearly a million more votes than the Sunnis. In a fiery mood Tuesday morning, Dhafir al-Ani from the Sunni bloc told reporters the parties are challenging the results.

Mr. DHAFIR AL-ANI (Sunni Representative): (Through Translator) We consider these results a fragrant violation of the will of the people who were convinced to participate in the political process. They were told the elections would be transparent and honest and in line with international standards.

TARABAY: It's all in the numbers, the Sunnis say. Tariq al-Hashimi of the Iraqi Islamic Party says there aren't enough Shiites in Baghdad to give the Shiite Alliance such a huge lead over its opponents.

Mr. TARIQ AL-HASHIMI (Iraqi Islamic Party): (Through Translator) Even if every Shiite in Baghdad voted for the Shiite slate, it would get about a half a million votes, not three times as much. So where did the extra million come from?

TARABAY: One major problem is that no one really knows just how many people live in Baghdad; the last census was completed decades ago. But in the end, it isn't really about the numbers anyway, and the Sunnis know this. The once-dominant group in Iraq, they boycotted the last parliamentary election, and they know their participation in a new government is critical to halting the insurgency. Adnan al-Dulaimi, head of the Iraqi Islamic Party, made it clear there would be consequences if his demand to re-run the election in Baghdad is not met.

Mr. ADNAN AL-DULAIMI (Iraqi Islamic Party): (Through Translator) There may be consequences that will shake Iraq. We have evidence of fraud. This won't serve any party. Those results will provoke the Iraqi people, and Iraq's security will not be achieved if those results are taken as final.

Unidentified Man: (Chanting in foreign language)

Group of People: (Chanting in foreign language)

Unidentified Man: (Chanting in foreign language)

Group of People: (Chanting in foreign language)

TARABAY: The same complaints about election rigging was heard elsewhere in Baghdad Tuesday. Members of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's slate said they, too, had evidence of electoral fraud. Then the Election Commission held its own press conference calling for patience.

Mr. FARID AYAR(ph) (Iraqi Election Official): (Foreign language spoken)

TARABAY: Election official Farid Ayar says the commission is investigation all the complaints and notes the count still isn't final. After another day of vote tabulation, the Shiite Alliance ended up with fewer votes in Baghdad, nearly 100,000 fewer than it had the day before, although it still holds a commanding lead.

Despite calls for unity and reconciliation ahead of the election, Iraqis seem to have voted along sectarian lines. That, says American Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, is dangerous for Iraq.

Ambassador ZALMAY KHALILZAD (US Ambassador to Iraq): For Iraq to succeed, there has to be cross-ethnic and cross-sectarian cooperation. But sectarianism undercuts prospects for success and increases the risk of conflict among sects.

TARABAY: Khalilzad says of the more than a thousand complaints lodged so far, 20 are in what he called `the red zone,' meaning they could affect the outcome. Iraqi election officials are so overwhelmed by the number of complaints that they've revised the date for final results. Instead of the two weeks they thought it would take, they now say the official numbers won't be announced until early next year. Jamie Tarabay, NPR News, Baghdad.

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