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U.S. Helicopter Crashes North of Baghdad
In political developments, the head of the Iraqi election commission announced that he would disallow votes from 227 of the 32,000 ballot boxes collected across the country in parliamentary elections held Dec. 15. The invalidation of slightly more than 100,000 votes was not expected to significantly change the results of the election.
Abdul-Hussein Hendawi, the head of the election commission, said at a news conference Monday that the commission had found fake ballots or too many votes in the boxes, almost half of which were in Baghdad.
Sunni Arabs and secular Shiite Muslim parties have protested the election results, which heavily favored a coalition of Shiite religious parties, saying the outcome had been tainted by fraud.
Reporters asked Hendawi six times whether the discarding of somewhat less than 1 percent of the vote would have an impact on the composition of the 275-seat parliament.
The first four times, speaking in Arabic, he did not answer, saying final results would be announced in the coming week.
The fifth time, in halting English, he said: "Maybe. The question of one, two, three seats."
Finally, he said, again in English, "I have no idea, really."
Special correspondents Salih Saif Aldin in Mishahda and Hassan Shammari in Muqdadiyah contributed to this report.