Saturday, January 21, 2006

AP update:

Iraqi Elections Breakdown [list of facts]

Sunni Arab politicians called for a government of national unity Saturday and signaled they will use their increased numbers in parliament to curb the power of rival Shiites, who have claimed the biggest number of seats in the new legislature. [...] Official returns released Friday from the Dec. 15 national election confirmed that the coalition of Shiite religious parties that dominates the outgoing government again won the biggest number of seats in the new parliament - but not enough to govern without partners. The Shiite alliance took 128 of the 275 seats, the election commission said. An alliance of two Kurdish parties allied with the Shiites in the outgoing government won 53 seats. Sunni Arabs, virtually shut out of the current assembly, scored major gains, opening the door to a greater role in government for the community at the heart of the insurgency. The Friday announcement paves the way for intensive negotiations to form a new government. U.S. officials are urging formation of a broad-based government of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, hoping that will lure insurgents away from violence so that U.S. and other foreign troops can begin withdrawing. In separate press conferences Saturday, two leading Sunni Arab politicians expressed their interest in joining a coalition government. But they made clear they will insist on curbing the trend toward sectarianism, which many Sunnis blame on policies of the outgoing government led by Shiites and Kurds. [...]

Ayad Allawi looks like the poster child for America's vision for Iraq - secular, pro-Western, tough on terrorism. To Iraqis, the former prime minister and other secular figures proved less attractive. That underscores a truism: In the new Iraq, politics and religion go hand in hand. Allawi's ticket, which included prominent Sunnis and Shiites, won only 25 of the 275 seats in the December election, according to results announced Friday. That represented a 38 percent loss from the number of seats won by Allawi's ticket in January 2005 - although the former prime minister himself was elected to parliament. However, another prominent secular Shiite and former Washington favorite, Ahmad Chalabi, didn't even win a seat. Instead, the voters turned to candidates who ran under a religious - or in the case of the Kurds, an ethnic - label. [...]

Friday, January 20, 2006

BBC: Iraq's Shia-led United Iraqi Alliance has won the country's parliamentary elections, but failed to obtain an absolute majority. The alliance took 128 of the 275 seats - 10 short of an outright majority. Kurdish parties have 53 seats and the main Sunni Arab bloc 44. The Shias will now be expected to form a coalition government.

Sunday, January 15, 2006