Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Sunday, 16 May 2010 16:42 UK

Baghdad election results upheld by election commission

Iraqi electoral commission official Qassim al-Aboudi speaks to reporters in Baghdad, 14 May
Iraq's electoral commission says the result remains the same

Iraq's electoral commission has upheld parliamentary election results in Baghdad and the surrounding area after a partial recount.

It took nearly two weeks to recount by hand all 2.5m ballots cast.

The recount was requested by incumbent Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, whose coalition came second in the poll.

The BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse in Baghdad says the announcement marks an important stage on the road towards ending political deadlock in Iraq.

The electoral commission had already announced that no instances of fraud had been detected.

The outcome leaves intact the overall two-seat lead of Mr Maliki's challenger, Iyad Allawi.

Coalition likely

The final tally of the votes will now be sent to the federal court for ratification.

"The number of the seats are still the same and didn't change," electoral official Qassim al-Abboudi told reporters, adding that the recount's outcome was compatible with the original results announced in March.

"I hope that all political blocks are satisfied now that the electoral process was honest and all allegations of fraud and forgery were totally incorrect."

Our correspondent says many will hope this announcement draws a line under a series of challenges to the vote itself, and the beginning of negotiations in earnest between the various political parties.

No single party won enough seats to form a government on its own. A broad coalition of some kind - including Shias, Sunnis and Kurds - seems the most likely outcome.

Many fear the deadlock is creating an environment insurgents can exploit. More than 100 people have been killed in the last week in a wave of bombings and shootings across Iraq.

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