Fraud Committed in Iraqi Election

By K.I. Ibrahim
Special to the Washington Post
Monday, February 16, 2009

BAGHDAD, Feb. 15 -- Iraqi election officials said Sunday that some fraud was committed in virtually every province during local elections Jan. 31 but that it was not widespread enough in any of them to require a new vote.

"We have received complaints over violations in all 14 provinces, with varying degrees of seriousness, but most of them were not critical and did not change the final results," said Kareem al-Tamimi, a member of Iraq's national electoral commission. "Some of the provinces had more than others."

Tamimi declined to say which province had the most. Officials said the violations occurred in more than 30 polling stations nationwide.

The final certified results from the elections will be announced as early as Tuesday, Tamimi said.

U.S. and Iraqi officials hope the elections for influential local councils that are the equivalent of U.S. state legislatures will redistribute power among Iraq's sects and promote national reconciliation. Preliminary results showed the allies of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki winning in Baghdad and southern Iraq, while Sunni Arab parties won the most votes in four provinces.

In violence Sunday, a U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in southern Iraq, the U.S. military said. It was the fifth combat fatality for the American military in Iraq in the past week.

Also Sunday, a magnetic bomb attached to a car in Baghdad's Sadr City enclave exploded, killing one person and wounding four others, police said.

In the volatile northern city of Mosul, where Sunni insurgents continue to exert influence, a magnetic bomb was placed under the car of Muhsin A'abu, a candidate of the al-Hadba-a party, which according to preliminary results won decisively in Nineveh province. A'abu and six others were injured in the blast, according to Capt. Hashim Muhammad of the Mosul police.

In another attack in Mosul, a roadside bomb targeted a police patrol, killing two people and injuring four, including three civilians. Other roadside bomb attacks were reported in Diyala province, killing a total of three people.

In the city of Fallujah, in western Anbar province, police said they had arrested a man believed to be a senior al-Qaeda in Iraq operative, who has been accused of kidnapping and beheading victims. Acting on intelligence, police arrested Saadi Nayef Ali Mahmadi in a restaurant less than a day after he entered Iraq from Syria, said Col. Mahmoud Essawi, the city's police chief.

Mohammad Ali Faisal, a judicial official, said Mahmadi was "responsible for numerous murders" and called his swift arrest "a great credit to the security forces."

Special correspondents Aziz Alwan in Baghdad and Washington Post staff in Mosul, Kirkuk, Tikrit and Fallujah contributed to this report.

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