First results due from Iraq vote, Maliki favoured

The independent election commission was due to hold a news conference in the second half of the day, giving the first official tallies.

First results due from Iraq vote, Maliki favoured
Iraqi election authorities were due to give the first official results on Thursday of last week's provincial election, widely expected to show gains for the law-and-order bloc of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

The independent election commission was due to hold a news conference in the second half of the day, giving the first official tallies five days after the polls.

The election, for regional councils that name powerful governors in 14 of 18 provinces, was the first in Iraq since 2005 and the most peaceful since U.S. invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Although the official tallies have been under wraps, rivals of the prime minister have acknowledged that his State of Law coalition did surprisingly well, probably coming first in Iraq's two biggest cities, Baghdad and Basra.

That would give Maliki -- once seen as a weak leader installed by more powerful Shi'ite parties -- his own power base in the provinces and strengthen his hand ahead of a national election expected later this year.

The prime minister is head of a Shi'ite Islamist party, but campaigned on a law-and-order platform as a nationalist eschewing religious rhetoric.

Still, it may be months before Iraq's political landscape emerges fully. In many provinces no party is likely to win an outright majority and coalitions will have to be formed.

The provincial results will be closely watched for signs that Sunni Arabs who boycotted local elections in 2005 win a share of power in the north and tribal groups who came to prominence in 2006-07 enter regional government in the west.

The election is expected to see a new mainly Sunni Arab party take power in northern Nineveh province from Kurds who controlled the local council despite making up only a quarter of the population there.

In the west, the tribes have alleged fraud by the Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni Arab group that has held power in Anbar province for years.

Thursday's results will be provisional. The electoral commission says it will need about a month to investigate complaints before issuing final results.

Reuters
Last Mod: 05 Şubat 2009, 14:56
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