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February 13, 2005

Shi'ites clear winners in Iraq poll

Topics: Iraq Elections

Iraq's long-oppressed Shi'ite majority swept to a resounding victory in the country's first free elections in half a century, winning almost half the vote, according to final results released today.

"Today marks the birth of a new Iraq and a free people," election commission official Farid Ayar told reporters.

Iraq's main Shi'ite list, which had the blessing of the majority community's spirtual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, won 48.1 per cent of the votes cast in the January 30 election, the electoral commission said.

The result is calculated to give the list 132 seats in the new 275-member national assembly that will draw up a consitution for post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, making it much the largest faction but leaving it well short of a majority.

The ticket grouping the two main Kurdish parties also made a strong showing, winning 25.7 per cent of the vote and an estimated 71 seats, as well as winning in the tinderbox oil rich city of Kirkuk.

But interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's list came a distant third with 13.8 per cent and 38 seats.

Turnout was about 59 per cent, with a total of almost 8.5 million people voting in the first election since Saddam was toppled after the US-led invasion of March 2003.

Despite threats of a bloodbath by extremist Sunni Arab insurgents, election day passed without any major attacks and was internationally acclaimed as a success.

Today's results are "final but uncertified" and will only become definitive if no challenges are lodged over the next three days.

Posted by Hyscience at February 13, 2005 5:10 PM

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