BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's prime minister has harshly criticized calls for international involvement in setting up a new government following the country's close-fought elections.

Nouri al-Maliki says that a deeper foreign role could only harm Iraq and delay its efforts to become self-reliant. Al-Maliki spoke on Friday in the holy city of Karbala.

His main opponent, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, has called for an internationally supervised caretaker government to resolve disputes over the close election results.

Allawi's supporters allege that calls by al-Maliki's bloc for a recount of votes from the balloting and efforts by a special commission to disqualify certain candidates in effect seek to reverse the slim two-seat lead that Allawi got in the March 7 elections.