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Last Updated: Friday, 4 February, 2005, 20:38 GMT
Shia candidates lead Iraqi poll
Poster looking ahead to departure of US-led forces from Iraq being pasted up in Baghdad
Officials say about 60% of Iraqis voted in Sunday's election
Latest partial results show Iraq's main Shia Muslim coalition has maintained a strong lead in the country's landmark elections, officials say.

The results are based on 35% of the ballots cast last weekend.

The United Alliance list, backed by Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, has polled 2.2 million votes out of the 3.3 million counted so far.

The Shia coalition is also ahead in votes cast by Iraqis overseas, according to preliminary results.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), which supervised the absentee ballot, said the United Alliance list had received 36.15% of 263,685 ballots cast overseas.

The Kurdish Alliance list came second, with 78,062 votes, or 29.6% of the expatriate vote and the list of candidates led by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi came third, with 9.15%.

Complaints investigated

The partial results come from 10 of Iraq's 18 provinces - all 10 have large Shia populations.

The first results, released on Thursday after 1.6 million votes were counted, placed the United Alliance list in the lead with one million votes.

Full results are not expected for several days, the Iraqi election commission says.

Threats of violence did not deter large numbers of electors voting on 30 January, but there were complaints about polling stations running short ballot papers in several provinces.

ELECTION SCHEDULE
Results due in several days
Early March: PM appointed
Late March: Government formed
15 August: Draft constitution (six-month extension possible)
15 October: Possible referendum on constitution
By 15 December: Elections for government

After the first partial results were released on Thursday, officials said they had sent a team to the northern city of Mosul to look into allegations of irregularities in Sunday's election.

"We received some complaints and the legal department in our commission is studying these complaints thoroughly," said election commission official Safwat Rashid.

Sunni Arabs in particularly complained about being denied the right to vote around Mosul.

On Wednesday, the main Sunni religious organisation, the Associations of Muslim Scholars, said the election had been illegitimate as so many Sunni Muslims had not taken part in the vote.


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