Iraqi parliamentary elections this month were credible and no evidence has been found of any systematic or widespread fraud during the vote count, the top United Nations official in the country said today after authorities announced the final election results.
Ad Melkert, the Secretary-General''s Special Representative to Iraq and the head of the UN political mission (known as UNAMI) to the country, said in a statement that Iraqis deserved credit for “an historic achievement.”
The Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) of Iraq unveiled the results tonight local time for the national polls on 7 March, in which more than 6,000 candidates competed for 325 seats in the Council of Representatives. At least 12 million people cast their votes.
Media reports indicate that the party headed by Iyad Allawi, the former prime minister, holds a narrow lead over the party of Nuri al-Maliki, the current premier, in the number of parliamentary seats won.
Mr. Melkert called on all candidates to accept the results of the polls and “to assume responsibility to lead Iraq to the next stage of democracy, stability and prosperity for all. Whether winning or losing, participation in the elections has been a collective victory.”
UNAMI assisted IHEC with advice and support during the pre- and post-election process, and the Special Representative said the independent authority carried out its responsibility of staging the elections with dedication.
“No election in the world is perfect. There were imperfections and at some places serious issues. We condemn acts of intimidation that have occurred in the course of the process.”
In his statement Mr. Melkert said UN officials were confident that the counting process contained the necessary checks and balances, and “there is now a solid basis for ratification by the Supreme Court” of the results.
“All results of almost 50,000 voting stations have been checked at least eight times. On the basis of specific complaints submitted by different entities, specific audits have been held on places with indications of irregularities. Ballot boxes that could not stand the test have not been included in the count. We have not found evidence of systematic failure or fraud of widespread nature.”
Mr. Melkert added that the conclusion was therefore that the overall election process, including the campaigning period, polling day and the count “has met reasonable demands and standards, with errors and doubts remaining within normal margins.”
Mr. Melkert, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Security Council members congratulated Iraqis in the immediate aftermath of polling day earlier this month for exercising their democratic rights and for the relative lack of violent incidents.