Tags: Iraq | results | election | vote

Iraqis Await Results From Sunday's Election

Tuesday, 09 March 2010 10:33 AM

BAGHDAD — Iraq awaited initial results Tuesday from polls touted as a test of its young democracy, with Baghdad holding the key as the prime minister's list and its top secular rival jockeyed for pole position.

Thirty percent of votes were due to be counted by the evening, giving Iraq's complex range of political blocs their first official indication of how they fared in the second general election since the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite who helped ease the country's deadly sectarian strife, emerged Monday as the front-runner, according to estimates AFP obtained from officials across the country.

But he could yet face a tough battle to cling to power after the vote on Sunday that saw millions defy bomb, mortar and rocket attacks which killed 38 people to cast their ballots.

Estimates of early trends in the Baghdad region, which with its 70 parliamentary seats could swing the result of the vote, are not yet available. Related article: Vote a setback for Al-Qaeda

However, officials said on Monday that Maliki's political bloc was leading the count in nine of Iraq's 18 provinces.

His State of Law Alliance was ahead in Shiite regions, while Iyad Allawi, a former premier who heads the Iraqiya list, led in Sunni areas, according to estimates AFP obtained from officials across the country.

The complete results will be announced on March 18 and the final official results -- after any appeals are taken into account -- will come at the end of the month.

Months of horse-trading are then likely before a new government is formed.

Early indications were positive for Maliki, however. A source close to him said it now looked as if his list would secure 100 seats in the 325-seat parliament.

Maliki was appointed premier in 2005 as a compromise candidate, and his administration, with the essential help of the US military, sharply reduced the Sunni-Shiite sectarian strife that killed tens of thousands of Iraqis.

He played down his party's Shiite religious roots in campaigning for this election and sought to portray himself as the leader who restored security to Iraq, a claim dented by a series of bombings in recent weeks.

Maliki's main challenger, according to the initial estimates, is Allawi, whose Iraqiya list is a mostly Shiite slate that campaigned on a nationalist and non-sectarian ticket.

The other leading list is the Iraq National Alliance, dominated by two Shiite religious parties -- the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council and the movement of radical leader Moqtada al-Sadr, who led two uprisings against US troops. Related article: Iraqis win praise for braving violence to vote

Sunday saw Sunni Arabs vote in large numbers, in stark contrast to their 2005 boycott in protest at the rise to power of the long-oppressed Shiite majority.

Overall voter turnout on Sunday was officially given at 62.4 percent.

US President Barack Obama, who has promised to withdraw all American troops from Iraq by the end of next year, paid tribute to "the courage and resilience of the Iraqi people who once again defied threats to advance their democracy."

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Tuesday, 09 March 2010 10:33 AM
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