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Iraqi Election Commission Awaits Ruling On Disqualified Candidates

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki
BAGHDAD -- A senior Iraqi election official says the independent electoral commission will await the results of an appeal by nine disqualified candidates before deciding if they can take their seats, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

Sardar Abdel Karim, a member of the electoral commission, told RFI today that if the seven-member appeals panel upholds the disqualifications made by the Accountability and Justice Commission then the votes of those barred candidates will be distributed to other lists as stipulated by law.

He said that would give some factions additional seats in Iraqi's Council of Representatives, which has 325 seats.

In the meantime, the electoral commission is continuing a recount of roughly 2.5 million votes cast in Baghdad on March 7 after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law Coalition demanded a partial recount, which is expected to be completed later today.

Maliki's coalition finished a close second to former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's Al-Iraqiyya movement, which officially won 24.7 percent of the votes to the State of Law's 24.2 percent.

A change of some 58,000 votes in the recount could give Maliki's coalition more votes than Allawi's movement.

Abdel Karim pointed out that of 215 official complaints filed by various parties, the electoral commission has so far thrown out 70 as irrelevant or unfounded while it continues to investigate the others.

Analyst Asaad al-Ibadi told RFI that the electoral commission has demonstrated a commendable impartiality which all political leaders should respect by refraining from interfering in its work.

He said that in his opinion the electoral commission has convincingly refuted all claims of incompetence or that it is allowing irregularities to go