Friday, February 10, 2006

AP: Iraq's conservative Shiite United Iraqi Alliance was confirmed as the winner of December's elections, paving the way for the opening of parliament and forming a new government.Chief election commissioner Adel al-Lami read the final certified results of the polls, which were unchanged from provisional ones announced on January 20. Friday's figures for the 275-member parliament gave 128 seats to the conservative Shiite alliance, 53 to the Kurdish Alliance, and 80 to the Joint Council for National Action, an allinace of Sunni and secular groups. The remainder were shared by small parties, most representing ethnic minorities. Boosted by its own results and by the support of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr and two MPs close to him, the Shiite alliance, which is dominated by religious parties, will select its prime ministerial candidate Saturday. The two main competitors are current Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari of the Dawa Party and Adel Abdel Mahdi of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). Political parties had filed 24 complaints against the results, which were examined by the Transitional Electoral Panel. Lami said "these did not change the results." The new parliament, which will have more than 25 percent women MPs, is expected to convene within the next 15 days.