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Middle East

Final vote results hand victory to al-Maliki allies

Latest update : 2009-02-19

Politicians backed by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki came out ahead in all nine predominantly Shia provinces in provincial polls, though they will have to strike alliances to govern at local level, final results showed on Thursday.

AFP - Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's allies came first in all nine of Iraq's Shiite provinces in provincial polls, final results showed on Thursday, but they will have to compromise to govern at local level.

In Baghdad, the State of Law Coalition backed by Maliki, who is himself a Shiite, won 28 out of 55 seats, and 20 out of 35 seats in the southern port city of Basra, securing absolute majorities in both.

But the coalition will have to strike alliances with independents or rivals from the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council of Abdel Aziz al-Hakim or supporters of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr within the new provincial councils.

In Najaf, the coalition won seven out of 28 seats, in Babil eight out of 30, in Muthanna five from 26, Maysan eight from 27, Dhi Qar 13 from 31, in Karbala nine out of 27, Diwaniyah 11 out of 28 and Wasit 13 out of 28 seats.

Hakim's group lost control of seven Shiite provinces and Baghdad but remains the second largest force in the Shiite community. It came second in six provinces but slipped back to sixth place in the capital.

The Sadrists, who complained that thousands of votes were invalidated in Baghdad and Najaf, came in third after losing control of Maysan, the only province under their control.

The provincial councils, which serve for a four-year term, are now tasked with electing governors for the provinces within 30 days.

Just over half of Iraqis voted in the largely trouble-free elections, which were seen as a key test of the country's progress since the US-led invasion ousted Saddam Hussein from power almost six years ago.

The polls held in 14 of the country's 18 provinces were also seen as a referendum on Maliki's performance. Voting is due later in the three Kurdish provinces of northern Iraq and the disputed oil-rich region of Kirkuk.

Several parties will share power in the mainly Sunni provinces.

In Anbar, a tribal coalition led by Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha, head of the Sahwa formed by former insurgents who turned against Al-Qaeda, topped the list with eight seats out of 29 in the provincial council.

The Islamic Party, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which controlled the region since 2003, won six seats within a tribal coalition list.

The main Sunni group in parliament, the National Concord Front, topped the list with five seats out of 28 in Salaheddin, the home province of executed former dictator Saddam.

It also came first in the violent province of Diyala with nine out of 29 council seats.

In the northern province of Mosul, where Iraq's second largest city Mosul is the capital, the anti-Kurd Al-Hadba coalition won an absolute majority, taking 19 of 37 seats, while a Kurdish list won 12 seats.

Under the electoral law, six seats were reserved for Iraq's minorities, including three for Christians.

Votes from between 50 and 60 polling stations out of the 6,500 across Iraq were invalidated after probes into 1,400 complaints, the electoral commission said.

Date created : 2009-02-19