A senior Iraqi spy has accused the prime minister, Nour al-Maliki, of handing out thousands of guns to tribal leaders in a bid to win votes. The claim was made by Iraqi National Intelligence Service former spokesman, Saad al-Alusi, a week before Iraq's general election, in which allegations of vote buying and exorbitant handouts have become widespread.
Maliki, who faces a bitterly contested final week of campaigning ahead of the7 March poll, has been photographed handing out guns to supporters in southern Iraq, engraved with a personal message from his office. However he denies that the delivery of weapons, along with cash payments, were improper.
Alusi, who was the INIS spokesman until he was asked to move to another ministry eight days ago, said some 8,000 guns were ordered from a Serbian supplier at the end of 2008 for use by intelligence officers. However he claimed Maliki "denied our contract at the last minute and made his own contract of 10,000 pistols, which he has used as election propaganda for himself and his party.