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Baghdad Vote Recount Begins Monday

Iraq's electoral commission says a recount of votes in Baghdad from the March parliamentary elections will begin Monday and last at least two weeks.

The commission announced its timetable Thursday, ten days after saying it had agreed to the recount.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki asked for the recount. His State of Law alliance said it had uncovered evidence of widespread fraud in five provinces, including Baghdad. The Iraqi capital accounts for nearly a fifth of Iraq's 325-seat parliament.

In the original vote, Mr. Maliki's alliance won in Baghdad by just two seats more than the Iraqiya alliance of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. However, in the overall vote, Mr. Allawi's alliance has a narrow lead of two parliamentary seats.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden discussed the election process with United Nations envoy to Iraq, Ad Melkert, Wednesday.

A statement from Biden's office says the two agreed on the "need for fairness and transparency" in the Iraqi election process. The statement says the two officials also called for "respect" for the votes cast by Iraqis.

On Monday, an Iraqi elections panel disqualified 52 candidates for alleged ties to Saddam Hussein's banned Ba'ath party. Officials said two of the disqualified candidates had won seats in March.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.