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    Default Iraqiya wins 91 seats, rival Malikiís State of Law 89

    Iraqiya wins 91 seats, rival Maliki’s State of Law 89

    The al-Iraqiya List of Iyad Allawi won Iraq’s parliamentary elections with 91 seats, with Nouri al-Maliki’s trailing two seats behind, the Iraqi National Alliance 70 and the Kurdistan Alliance 42.

    “Al-Iraqiya bloc won 91 out of a total 325 seats in the Iraqi parliament while the bloc of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki won 89 seats, the Iraqi National Alliance 71 and the Kurdistan Alliance 42 seats,” according to Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) in a press conference in Baghdad on Friday.

    Al-Iraqiya comprises al-Wifaq (Accordance) Movement, Tajdeed (Renewal) List that is led by Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and Deputy Premier Rafie al-Issawi, Iraqiyoon Bloc led by Osama al-Nejeifi and the National Dialogue Front (NDF) of Saleh al-Motlak. The Iraqi National Alliance (INA) of Ammar al-Hakeem’s Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sadrist Movement and al-Islah (Reform) bloc led by former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari obtained 71 seats while the Kurdistan Alliance led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Iraqi Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barazani won 42 seats. Coming fifth was another Kurdish bloc called Change, led by Noshirwan Mostafa, with eight seats. Allawi’s Iraqiya list won two seats more than Maliki’s State of Law Alliance but failed to win an overall majority, with Allawi pledging after the results to “work with all sides” to form a government.

    Maliki, however, refused to accept the results, telling a press conference in Baghdad following the release of the figures that they remained “preliminary”.

    “The election results are not final,” said the prime minister, who has called for a nationwide manual recount of votes, alleging irregularities in the counting process.

    Security officials have warned a long period of coalition building could give insurgents and Al-Qaeda a chance to further destabilize Iraq, with deadly bomb attacks northeast of Baghdad on Friday illustrating their concerns.

    The US ambassador to Baghdad and the top American military commander in Iraq, in a joint statement, gave their blessing to the outcome.

    “We support the findings of international and independent Iraqi observers, who … have found that there is no evidence of widespread or serious fraud,” said ambassador Christopher Hill and General Ray Odierno.

    The results come around five months before the United States is due to withdraw all of its combat troops from Iraq, and Washington will be keen to see a smooth outcome from the election.

    “We will work with all sides, whether they won or did not win in the election, to form the next government,” Allawi said in a t.elevision interview immediately after the results were announced.

    Fireworks were set off and celebratory gunfire was heard in central Baghdad as car drivers honked their horns at traffic intersections after the figures were published. The results released by Iraq’s election commission in Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone showed Allawi won 91 seats in the nationwide poll, the second since Saddam Hussein was ousted in the 2003 US-led invasion. Kurdistania, comprised of the autonomous Kurdish region’s two long-dominant blocs, won 43 seats.

    Allawi’s victory signals he will be given the first opportunity to form a government, which would require a coalition holding at least a majority of 163 seats. If he fails to do so within 30 days, Iraq’s president, who himself is elected by parliament, would choose the leader of another bloc to try to form a coalition government.

    Before Friday’s figures were released, State of Law threatened not to recognize results it sees as tainted, which could plunge Iraq into political crisis. In the runup up to the results, the bloc organized several demonstrations in predominantly Shiite provinces in the south, where it performed well in the election. Council chiefs of 10 central and southern provinces, including Baghdad, and who belong to the coalition, on Wednesday threatened “a major escalation” if Maliki’s recount demand was not met.

    The UN envoy to Iraq, though, hailed the election as “credible” and called on all parties to accept the outcome.

    “It is the UN’s considered opinion that these elections have been credible and we congratulate the people of Iraq for this success,” Ad Melkert told a press conference on Friday.

    He called on Iraqi parties to “accept the results.”

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