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Shiites dominate Iraq election; Kurds 2nd
Updated: 2005-02-13 22:45

The main coalition of Shiite parties won almost half of the votes in the Iraqi general election, the country's electoral commission announced.

An Iraqi man watches an electoral commission official announcing the general election results. The main coalition of Shiite parties won almost half of the votes in the Iraqi general election, the country's electoral commission announced, adding that total turnout was around 59 percent.[AFP]

According to figures released by the Independent Electoral Commission in Iraq, the United Iraqi Alliance backed by top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani won 48.1 percent of the vote.

It obtained 4,075,295 votes out of the 8,456,266 cast by Iraqis in the milestone January 30 elections to choose a new national assembly, provincial councils and a regional Kurdish parliament.

The ticket formed by the two main Kurdish parties ensured it would become the second largest bloc in the National Assembly with 2,175,551 ballots, or 25.7 percent of the vote.

The list led by current prime minister Iyad Allawi was a distant third with 13.8 of the vote, while President Ghazi al-Yawar's Iraqiyun list mustered a paltry 1.7 percent.

Based on the results, the Shiite coalition should hold 132 seats in parliament, the Kurdish alliance 71, Allawi's Iraqi List 38 and Yawar's party only five.

At a press conference in Baghdad, electoral commission members Farid Ayar and Adel al-Lami also announced the results of the elections for Iraq's 18 provincial councils and the Kurds' 111-member autonomous parliament.

"Today marks the birth of a new Iraq and a free people," Ayar told reporters.

On January 30, millions of Iraqis went to polling stations for the first time since Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled in April 2003, braving security threats to take part in elections internationally acclaimed as a major milestone on the country's path to democracy.

Ayar had said earlier that the results would be "final but uncertified" and would only be definitive and official if no challenges were lodged over the next three days.

A government line-up is not expected immediately as officials have warned that it could take up to several weeks to reach an ethnic and religious balance aceptable to all parties.

All key posts are due to be announced at the same time.

The members of parliament will have to select a president and his two deputies, who in turn will have to unanimously pick a prime minister.

The new premier will then be tasked with choosing a cabinet that has to be approved by a majority in parliament.

According to the interim constitution, the new National Assembly has to write a permanent one by August 15, but the parliament speaker and a majority of the chamber can decide on a non-renewable six-month extension.

If the initial deadline is met, the country's new basic law will be submitted to a referendum on October 15 before polls for a new constitutionally-elected government are held on December 15.

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