Baghdad votes to be recounted

An Iraqi election review panel yesterday ordered a recount of votes cast in Baghdad in the 7 March election, raising the prospect of a change in results that gave a cross-sectarian group backed by Sunnis a slim lead.

Any revision could inflame sectarian tensions at a time when Iraq is emerging from the worst of the fighting between minority Sunnis and majority Shias that was unleashed after the 2003 US-led invasion.

The electoral commissioner Hamdiya al-Husseini said the manual recount of more than 2.5 million ballots would begin immediately, but she was not sure how long it would take.

The capital accounts for over a fifth of seats in the 325-seat parliament, making it a key prize, and the Shia Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law alliance had sought a recount after coming a close second in the election.

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