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Rumsfeld with Iraqi Premier Ibrahim al-Ja'fari in Bahdad in April (epa)
22 December 2005 -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made a surprise visit to Iraq today and told reporters that democracy and restoring order in the country will take "some time."
Rumsfeld also said any further cutbacks in U.S. troop levels beyond those already announced would depend on assessments by U.S. and Iraqi commanders: "There are so many variables moving around. As I've said a dozen times, anyone who thinks they can take all of those variables and establish mechanical benchmarks that will enable people to go mathematically towards a withdrawal date are wrong, and everyone who has tried to do it has failed, and I am not going to try to do it."
Also today, 35 Iraqi political groups rejected early partial results from the country's 15 December national elections. They called for an international investigation into charges of vote-rigging.
The groups included the main Sunni Arab coalition, a secular Shi'ite bloc led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and the National Congress headed by Ahmad Chalabi.
Click on the poster for an enlarged image.
The Iraqi Independent Electoral Commission issued posters in Arabic and the two dialects of Kurdish on the allocation of National Assembly seats by governorate for the 15 December National Assembly election. The poster says, "230 seats for the governorates, as well as 45 compensatory and national seats," while the corresponding map shows the breakdown of seats by governorate.
For more background on the election,
For a complete archive of RFE/RL coverage, background, and analysis of the December 15, 2005, legislative elections, click here.