Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Iraq elections: 'disastrous' dead heat predicted

Iraq's elections are heading for a dead heat in what is being seen as a triumph for democracy but a potential disaster for the country's bomb-shattered security.

With the final tally due to be declared on Thursday, the two leading coalitions were heading for 87 seats each and constitutional stalemate.

Just a few thousand votes separated the Iraqiya National Movement of the main challenger, Ayad Allawi, and the State of Law grouping put together by the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

Such a result would have been unimaginable in the era of the late leader Saddam Hussein, who was used to winning 99 per cent of the vote or more in his "elections".

But it also threatened to provoke a new wave of violence across the country as national politics was paralyzed by drawn-out attempts to form a government.