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No return to same Maliki rule-Iraq's Allawi

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Iraqi challenger Iyad Allawi said on Friday he would not accept a return to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s “one-man rule”, indicating a long struggle in the shaping of a new government following the March 7 election.

The latest results of the parliamentary poll show a tight race between the Shi’ite prime minister, who was edging slightly ahead, and Allawi, who was dominating mostly Sunni provinces.

“Our concern really is the welfare and well-being of the people, regardless of what kind of shape the government will take or how long it’s going to take,” said Allawi, a former prime minister who heads the cross-sectarian Iraqiya bloc.

“Because we are not going to accept forming a very quick government, a very quick fix for a government, that would bring the same disasters of the last four years again to Iraq,” Allawi said in Beirut. “The rule of one party, one-man rule, we don’t accept this.”

The strong showing by the secularist Allawi among Sunnis promises to be a key factor in the coming talks and in Iraq’s security as U.S. forces prepare to pull out by the end of 2011.

Analysts have said a government excluding Iraqiya risked sparking resentment felt by the Sunni minority since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion ended its grip on power.

Allawi said he was open to forming alliances, including with Maliki, providing he moved away from sectarianism and embraced reconciliation.

Maliki’s support for a move to bar hundreds of candidates for alleged links to Saddam Hussein’s now outlawed Baath party has alienated many Sunnis and prompted criticism from Allawi who said it showed he was “committed against reconciliation”.

“We have seen so far that he is adamant not only on representing the sectarian move ... he has been appointing senior officials in the government all belonging not only to the sect, (but) to his party which we think is very dangerous and can cause a lot of problems in the country,” Allawi said.

“If he (Maliki) changes his attitude not by words but by deeds ... then of course we’ll be very willing to cooperate with him. The dynamics have changed, maybe this will alert him that he will have no future if he persists in whatever he has done.”

VOTING IRREGULARITIES

Allawi complained of several instances of voting irregularities and said his party had filed complaints to the electoral commission, the United Nations and the Arab League.

When asked if he would reject the results, Allawi said “all options are on the table now” but conceded he was likely to deal with whatever the outcome is of the final vote.

“We of course ultimately have no other choice but to accept this because there is no other way for Iraq but to go the democratic way that we have all decided upon,” he said.

“But what we need is an answer both from the government and from the electoral commission to talk about the mistakes that have been committed and problems and intimidation, at least for the future.”

With nearly 90 percent of the votes counted, Maliki’s State of Law coalition was some 40,000 votes ahead of Iraqiya.

Maliki’s group was ahead in seven provinces compared to five for Iraqiya and three each for the next two challengers, the Shi’ite Iraqi National Alliance (INA) and the bloc representing the two most powerful parties from Iraq’s Kurdish north.

Allegations of vote manipulation have also prompted Maliki’s party and the INA to file complaints. (Editing by Myra MacDonald)

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