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Page last updated at 17:46 GMT, Saturday, 13 March 2010

PM Maliki leads poll count in key Baghdad constituency

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki. Photo: March 2010
Baghdad is a key battle ground for Mr Maliki's State of Law alliance

Partial results from Iraq's election show Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's coalition ahead in Baghdad, which accounts for 20% of parliament's seats.

Although there are still no results from seven of Iraq's 18 provinces, partial counts released so far this week show Mr Maliki leading in five.

He is followed closely by the former prime minister, Iyad Allawi, who heads a coalition of Sunni and Shia groups.

There have been complaints about the pace of the count for the 7 March poll.

Final results are not expected for another fortnight, after which there is expected to be a long process of coalition-building.

Sectarian violence erupted as politicians took months to form a government after the last parliamentary election in 2005.

Political manoeuvring

The BBC's Andrew North in Baghdad says the capital is the big prize in these elections, accounting for 70 of the 325 seats in the Council of Representatives.

So the early figures will be a boost to the prime minister, he adds.

IRAQ PARTIAL RESULTS - 13/03
Baghdad 70 seats at stake; 18% of votes declared
Nineveh 34; 15%
Basra 24; 0%
Dhiqar 18; 0%
Sulaimaniya 17; 0%
Babil 16; 34%
Irbil 15; 29%
Anbar 14; 0%
Diyala 13; 17%
Kirkuk 13; 0%
Najaf 12; 34%
Salahuddin 12; 18%
Dahuk 11; 0%
Qadisiya 11
Wasit 11; 0%
Karbala 10; 10%
Misan 10; 23%
Muthanna 7; 18%
Sources: Independent High Electoral Commission of Iraq; agencies

With 18% of ballots counted, Mr Maliki's State of Law alliance was comfortably ahead with around 150,000 votes, followed by the Shia-led Iraqi National Alliance (INA) on 108,000, the Independent High Electoral Commission said.

Mr Allawi's secular Iraqiya bloc was in third place with 105,000.

The electoral commission also announced on Saturday that the State of Law was leading in the southern Shia province of Karbala.

With about 10% of votes counted, Mr Maliki's coalition had about 16,000 votes, 9,000 more than the INA.

The State of Law is now ahead in five of the nine provinces where partial results have been released - Baghdad, Najaf, Babil, Karbala and Muthanna. Iraqiya leads in the three predominantly Sunni provinces of Nineveh, Diyala and Salahuddin, while the INA is ahead in two predominantly Shia ones - Misan and Qadisiya.

The Kurdistan Alliance, dominated by the Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, is leading as expected in Irbil.

Our correspondent says Mr Maliki's representatives are already talking with other parties on forming a new coalition government, but there have still been no results from key population centres like Mosul and Basra.

And allegations of fraud continue to hang over the process, he adds.

Iraqiya has claimed ballots were dumped, nearly a quarter of a million soldiers were denied voting rights, and vote counts were fabricated.

About 6,200 candidates from 86 factions stood in the election. Voter turnout was 62%, officials said, despite attacks that killed 38 people.

A credible election is seen as crucial to US military plans to end combat operations this August, seven years after the invasion.



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