Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called on Sunday for a recount of votes cast in the country's March 7 polls. Latest results published by Iraq's election commission and based on 92 percent of ballots cast indicated Maliki's State of Law Alliance trailing the Iraqiya bloc of Iyad Allawi by less than 8,000 votes nationwide.
"Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki calls for the high electoral commission to immediately answer the demands of political parties to proceed with a manual recount," a statement from Maliki's office said, according to AFP. The statement added, noting that Maliki remained head of the country's armed forces, that he wanted a recount to "protect political stability, avoid a degradation of the security situation and prevent a return to violence."
Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) has previously downplayed any allegations of fraud, and has pleaded for patience as the vote count, which has so far taken two weeks, continues. "We have heard many calls for a recount but we have not received any official request," Saad Rawi, an election commission official, told AFP. "When we receive an official request, we will discuss this within IHEC and with the UN."
Figures published on Saturday put Iraqiya ahead of State of Law by just 7,928 votes. Overall, Iraqiya garnered 2,543,632 votes compared with State of Law's 2,535,704. The Iraqi National Alliance, a coalition led by Shiite religious groups, was in third place with 1,915,654.
Complete election results are expected in the coming days.