Saturday, December 31, 2005

Counting the Votes


BAGHDAD, Dec. 30 -- As a fuel crisis deepened in Iraq, the government replaced its oil minister with controversial Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi, whose poor performance in the Dec. 15 elections was a setback in his recent attempt at political rehabilitation.

The oil minister, Ibrahim Bahr Uloom, was put on a mandatory, month-long leave. He had previously threatened to resign over the government's recent decision to increase gasoline prices sharply, a move that has outraged motorists and sparked attacks on gas stations and fuel convoys.


Based on preliminary results from the December elections, Chalabi received 8,645 votes in Baghdad, well below the threshold a top U.N. official suggested this week would be required to win a seat.

Moussawi said Friday that Chalabi could still end up in the parliament, depending on how officials interpret a technical detail of election rules relating to how remaining seats are allocated after each party meeting a specific threshold is awarded its seats.

"There is still confusion, even today at the election commission, about this, but we are hearing the party will have at least one seat," Moussawi said.