BAGHDAD — Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's political party claimed Sunday its investigation into the March 7 parliamentary election has thrown into question some 750,000 votes.
The State of Law alliance trailed by just two seats behind former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's party in the vote, which produced no clear winner because neither side got enough seats to govern alone. Maliki has demanded an official recount as both sides struggle to cobble together a ruling coalition.
"We estimate the volume of vote manipulation is up to 750,000 votes," Hajim al-Hasani, the spokesman of the State of Law Alliance, said. "This number could change the election results."
More than 11.5 million votes were cast in the election, which international observers said was fair and transparent. An appeals committee is reviewing the complaints, but there is no timetable for a decision.
Hasani said State of Law examined ballots from five of Iraq's 18 provinces — Basra, Baghdad, Qadissiya, Anbar and Ninevah — and irregularities include unsigned ballots and discrepancies in signatures. He said his party estimates they were cheated out of up to 15 seats.
Sunday's announcement will likely worsen the country's political deadlock, which many fear is fueling a recent wave of deadly violence. The most brutal attacks in the past two weeks include a triple suicide bombing outside foreign embassies in Baghdad, the execution-style slaying of Sunni villagers and a slew of explosions that ripped through residential areas. More than 120 have died in the attacks.
Police said Sunday three schoolchildren were killed in a roadside bombing north of Baghdad.