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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 February, 2005, 14:02 GMT
Q&A: Iraqi election
Voter contemplates poster explaining Iraqi election
Voter contemplates poster explaining Iraqi election
Iraq's landmark election was held on 30 January 2005.

Who are the winners and losers?

The group of parties which received the most votes was the United Iraqi Alliance, backed by Iraq's most senior Shia cleric Ayatollah Ali Sistani.

But the group, which has its support among the 60% of the population which is Shia, did not do as well as expected, getting over 47% of the vote.

Parties from Kurdish areas also took advantage of a high turnout, getting about 25%.

Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's list came a disappointingly distant third - reflecting the government's failure to deal with the security crisis - although its result was better than some forecasts had suggested.

But the biggest losers are the Sunni Arabs. Turnout was as low as 2% in some Sunni areas as people either boycotted the election or found it hard to vote because of violence.

There may be a problem of how Sunnis are to be represented in the constitutional talks.

What did Iraqis vote for?

Iraqis voted for a 275-member Transitional National Assembly.

The election treated the whole country as one constituency. Political parties submitted lists of candidates, and every third name had to be a woman's. Candidates had to be at least 30 years old.

Parties or groups with militias could not run for election and nor could current members of the armed forces. Also barred from standing were former senior members of the Baath Party, the political instrument of Saddam Hussein's rule.

The seats will be allocated by exact proportional representation, which means that each party or grouping will get the same proportion of seats in the assembly as it gets for its list in the popular vote.

What powers will the assembly have?

The assembly will have law-making powers. But first it must elect a state presidency council made up of a president and two deputies. The council in turn will choose a prime minister who will select ministers. The assembly will then vote on the make-up of the government. The prime minister will be the key figure, having control over the armed forces, for example.

The assembly's other main role will be to write a draft constitution by 15 August and submit this to referendum by 15 October. Parliamentary elections are due in December.

When will the final results be known?

The independent electoral commission announced the provisional results on 13 February.

Final confirmation is expected to follow on 16 February, after any appeals against them are dealt with.

How long before a government is formed?

The assembly first has to choose the presidency council. The council has two weeks in which to select a prime minister who has four weeks to nominate a government. There then has to be a vote in the assembly.

The whole process could go on until the end of March or the beginning of April, though if deals are done quickly, this timeframe could be shortened.

In the meantime the current interim government continues in office.

Were Iraqis living abroad allowed to vote?

Yes. The International Office of Migration set up voting places in 14 countries that have a substantial expatriate Iraqi population.

A total of 280,303 Iraqi exiles in 14 countries registered to vote - roughly one in four of those eligible to do so.

Voters had to prove Iraqi citizenship and be born before 31 December 1986.

What about the future of foreign troops?

According to UN Security Council Resolution 1546, the mandate of the foreign troops in Iraq will cease when the new fully constitutional government takes office, though the troops could then be asked to stay by the new authorities.

However, there will also be a review before this, in June, and at any stage the troops could be asked to leave.

When will there be a fully constitutional government?

If the constitution is approved in October, an election will be held by 15 December and a fully constitutional government will take power by 31 December. If the constitution is rejected, there will be a new assembly election by 15 December, and a further year is then allowed for the whole process.

There is also provision for a delay of six months if not enough progress is made on the constitution by 1 August.

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