BAGHDAD, April 29 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) said Thursday it will start manual recount of all ballots for Baghdad province on Monday and would continue for around two to three weeks.
"The electoral commission decided to start the recount for the ballots of Baghdad province next Monday," Faraj al-Haidari, head of the IHEC told press conference here.
Haidari also said that his commission would call on representatives of political bloc which ran in March 7 elections, along with media and international monitors to attend the recount process.
Hamdiyal al-Hussieni, a female commission member told reporters in the press conference that her commission estimated the recount process to take two to three weeks.
She said that the recount would take place in the al-Rasheed Hotel in the Green Zone that houses some Iraqi government offices and foreign embassies, including the U.S. one.
Late in March, the IHEC announced the preliminary results of March 7 parliamentary elections with a slender lead of two seats for secular leader Ayad Allawi over his rival Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
Maliki said his bloc did not accept the results announced by IHEC, saying they are "not final" and demanded manual recount for votes of Baghdad province which holds 70 seats of the parliament 325-seat. Maliki's State of Law bloc won 26 seats in Baghdad whereas Allawi's Iraqia garnered 24 seats.
The race has been close for both Maliki and Allawi during the partial preliminary results that was announced late in March. The close race rose tensions in central and southern the country, pushing Maliki and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to press on the electoral commission to carry out manual recount for the votes over alleged fraud.
On March 7, some 62.4 percent of more than 18 million eligible voters turned out in some 8,920 polling centers across the country to vote for the 325-seat Iraqi Council of Representatives out of some 6,300 candidates.