Maliki files complaint as lead slips in Iraq election; World Bank predicts 9.5% China growth, urges stronger currency; Britain balks at tough hedge fund reform; Israel reopens Temple Mount after violence; and more
Top of the Agenda: Maliki Sees Vote Lead Slip, Files Complaint
The political coalition of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki filed a complaint (WashPost) that the national election commission was manipulating results in Iraq's elections and demanded a recount, after his coalition's narrow lead slipped. The Iraqiya coalition of secular Shiite Ayad Allawi, favored by Sunni Arabs, reportedly moved ahead in the popular vote count Tuesday, though it still trailed in the province-by-province count that determines parliamentary seat apportionment. Maliki's coalition leads in seven of eighteen provinces, including Baghdad, which offers the most parliamentary seats. A narrow lead would make it harder for Maliki to form a coalition government and could delay the planned U.S. troop withdrawal if political jockeying sparked sectarian violence.
The United Nations, Iraqi monitoring groups, and Western diplomats have said there is no evidence of widespread fraud (McClatchy) that would discredit the entire vote or any one ticket.
On the World Politics Review, Kirk Sowell says Kurdish support is key to Maliki's prospects and that the election will result in a more polarized parliament split between majority Shiite Islamists and opposition Sunni Arab nationalists, with secular Shiite and tribal parties almost entirely wiped out.
In the National, Charles Dunne says Arab states should grasp the opportunity presented by a new and less sectarian Iraqi government to create closer diplomatic, military, and intelligence relations with the Arab world.
In this media conference call, CFR's Meghan O'Sullivan and Brett McGurk say the fracturing of Iraqi political coalitions makes parliamentary elections a possibly healthy step in the country's evolution.
PACIFIC RIM: World Bank Raises China Growth Forecast
In its quarterly assessment of China, the World Bank recommended higher interest rates and a stronger currency (NYT) while raising the country's growth forecast to 9.5 percent for 2010, versus the 8.7 percent it projected in November. Shifts in Chinese policy are making it harder for foreign companies to succeed and suggest Beijing is reassessing liberalization, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Japan: The Bank of Japan loosened monetary policy (Reuters), likely to prevent a rise in the yen from derailing the country's export-driven recovery and deepening deflation.