Iraq polls: Maliki, Allawi locked in dead heat
BAGHDAD: Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and main rival Iyad Allawi were locked in a close election race on Thursday, as updated results showed their blocs running neck-and-neck for
seats in parliament.
Maliki’s State of Law alliance led secular ex-premier Allawi’s Iraqiya list, by just 40,000 votes nationwide, according to latest results based on the 89 percent of ballots counted. But Iraqiya was on pace to garner 90 seats in the 325-member Council of Representatives compared to State of Law’s 88 seats, according to an AFP calculation that exclude eight seats which are reserved for minorities. Thursday’s figures also include70 percent of special voting, which is carried three days before the election, for security personnel, hospital patients and staff, and prisoners. Votes cast by Iraqis abroad have not yet been tabulated. The election, the second since Saddam Hussein was ousted in the US-led invasion of 2003, comes less than six months before the United States is set to withdraw all of its combat troops from Iraq.
Overall, State of Law has garnered 2,448,452 votes compared to Iraqiya’s 2,408,547, a difference of 39,905. The Iraqi National Alliance (INA), a coalition led by Shia religious groups with 1,859,606 ranks third. Under Iraq’s constitution, the leader of the biggest bloc in parliament is given 30 days to form a government. If they fail to do so in the allotted time, the country’s president, who himself is elected by parliament, must choose another nominee to form a government. State of Law leads in Baghdad, which is the largest province and accounts for more than twice as many seats as any other. It is also ahead in the southern oil province of Basra, the third biggest, as well as five other mostly Shia central and southern provinces, but has failed to finish in the top three in all but one of Iraq’s Sunni-majority provinces.