Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki accused neighboring countries on Monday of meddling in his country's internal affairs since national elections last month left him jockeying for power with his
"Our message is clear and honest - do not interfere in our affairs," the prime minister said during a meeting with former Sunni Arab insurgents.
"We want good relations. We want to establish a good future for Iraq among the international and regional society," al-Maliki added.¬† "But such good relations can only be built on the basis of mutual respect (and) noninterference in internal affairs."
Al-Maliki's State of Law coalition finished second in the March 7 parliamentary vote, trailing a slate led by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi by two seats in the 325-member Council of Representatives. But both are far short of the 163 seats needed to form a government, forcing the leaders to reach out to form coalitions with smaller parties.
Al-Maliki has asked for a manual recount of the votes, and hinted Monday that other countries were trying to influence an investigation into about 733,000 ballots his party has questioned. And he said some representatives of neighboring countries are "talking on television as if they were our guardians."