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Last Updated: Monday, 14 February, 2005, 01:04 GMT
Shia parties triumph in Iraq poll
Counting votes in Kurdish city of Sulaymaniya
Officials will not confirm the results for three more days
A group dominated by Shia Muslim candidates and sponsored by religious leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani has won the Iraqi national elections.

It picked up nearly half of the 8.5m votes cast in the 30 January poll.

Kurdish parties won about a quarter of the vote, followed by the alliance led by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

Members of the winning alliance said they wanted all Iraqis to be represented in the government, although many Sunni Muslims boycotted the vote.

PROVISIONAL RESULTS
Shia list: 48%
Kurdish parties: 26%
Iyad Allawi list: 14%
Others: 12%
Turnout: 58%

Shia leaders say they will try to draw them into the political process.

The US state department, describing the election as "a positive and significant accomplishment", also called for Iraqis who were not elected, or who did not take part, to contribute to the political process.

The main Shia list, the United Iraqi Alliance, is expected to nominate a new prime minister.

The Kurdish parties received nearly 2.2 million votes, while Mr Allawi's list attracted nearly 1.2 million.

Correspondents say the Kurdish parties are expected to hold a balance of power in the proposed 275-member national assembly and want the post of president.

The Iraqi people have taken another important step on the way to a secure and democratic future
UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw

There are three days in which complaints can be lodged, and if none are upheld the results will be declared official.

Overall turnout across the country was 58% of eligible voters.

But in Anbar province, at the heart of the restive "Sunni triangle" area of central Iraq where the insurgency is strongest, fewer than 2% of those eligible to vote actually did so. Insurgents had threatened to kill those who ventured out to vote.

ELECTION SCHEDULE
14-16 February: Complaints dealt with
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

At a news conference in Baghdad on Sunday, electoral commission members Farid Ayar and Adel al-Lami also announced the results of the elections for Iraq's 18 provincial councils and the Kurds' 111-member autonomous parliament.

"Today marks the birth of a new Iraq and a free people," Mr Ayar told reporters.

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw welcomed the announcement of the election results.

"The Iraqi people have taken another important step on the way to a secure and democratic future," he said.

Ambushed

The announcement of the results comes after a week of violence in which scores of Iraqis have died.

In the latest attacks, gunmen ambushed and killed Brigadier General Jadaan Farhan in northern Baghdad, along with two other passengers who were in a car with him.

Elsewhere in the capital, police said they had found the bodies of two men who worked for the party of Mr Allawi. A police spokesman said the men were from the same family.

North of Baghdad, in the town of Baquba, gunmen shot dead a communist member of the local council.

Further north, in Mosul, hospital officials say two people were killed in a rocket attack on the city hall.

In the western city of Samarra, two Iraqis are reported to have been killed in an attack at a roadblock, and another person is reported to have been killed in a car bomb attack at a checkpoint south of Baghdad, on the road to Karbala.




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Kurds celebrate strong showing in election




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