An Iraqi court on Monday ordered a partial recount of votes in last month’s national election, further inflaming tensions that many here fear could easily turn violent as the United States begins to withdraw most of its combat troops.
While the recount is limited to the province that includes the capital, Baghdad, it could upend the narrow victory of a coalition led by a former prime minister, Ayad Allawi, over Iraq’s incumbent, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.
Mr. Maliki, whose electoral alliance won 89 seats in the new Parliament, compared with 91 for Mr. Allawi’s, has bitterly complained that the announced results of the election in March did not reflect the will of the people and filed the legal challenge that has resulted in the recount.
“After the recount, we are hoping the results of the election in Baghdad will change,” said Hajim al-Hassani, a leader of Mr. Maliki’s bloc, State of Law, who received a seat in the new 325-member Parliament. “Whatever the decision will be, we will accept it.”
Mr. Allawi, a Shiite whose alliance won a majority of Sunni votes, has warned that violence could erupt if his victory is overturned. “If this happens, there will be very big problems in the country,” he said in an interview before Monday’s ruling.
The recount is expected to take at least a week to conduct. Officials said the three-member court that ruled on Monday was still considering other complaints of fraud and could order recounts in other regions as well. The main Kurdish alliance also objected and asked the court to review votes in two northern provinces, Nineveh and Kirkuk.
The disputed results of the election – which the United States and United Nations praised as largely fair and free of the sort of fraud that marred elections in Afghanistan last year — have already complicated what was expected to be an arduous, months-long effort to elect a prime minister to lead the government for the next four years.
Insurgents have also sought to exploit the uncertainty over the results, carrying out sporadic bombings and other attacks in an apparent effort to aggravate long-running feuds among Iraq’s sectarian groups. NYT