Shia-Led Bloc Leads in Early Results

United Iraqi Alliance does predictably well in southern provinces, though the count is far from complete.

Early results for the Iraq’s parliamentary election show the Shia-backed United Iraqi Alliance with a clear lead. But election officials cautioned that the results were disproportionate since they came mainly from Shia parts of the country.

On February 4, the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, IECI, announced results from Baghdad and the southern provinces of Basra, Thi Qar, Qadissiyah, Karbala, Najaf, Missan, Wassit and Muthanna.

In these areas, the United Iraqi Alliance, which was set up at the behest of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s supreme Shia leader, received about two-thirds of the 3.3 million votes counted. The Iraqi List coalition headed by Iraqi interim prime minister Ayad Allawi, a secular Shia, came in second with close to 580,000 votes.

The IECI cautioned that these partial results, which represents about 41 per cent of the total vote, should not be used to predict the final outcome, which will not be known for another week or so. The figures do not reflect voting in the Kurdish north or Sunni-dominated regions such as Diyala governorate in the east.

Meanwhile, Diyala saw more election-related violence. Militants killed an election candidate early on February 4 in a drive-by shooting.

Diyala police said Alwan Hussein al-Hashimi was leaving his house in the city of Baaqubah when insurgents opened fire from three cars. One of al-Hashimi’s guards was also killed. The candidate was standing for the Diyala governorate council rather than the National Assembly, and was backed by the Iraqi National Accord party which Prime Minister Allawi heads.

Police say a simultaneous assassination attempt on another Iraqi National Accord candidate failed. Two bodyguards were injured in the incident.

In Kut, the main city of the eastern Wassit governorate, the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq, SCIRI, said it was preparing a report on election irregularities, including interference from guards at some polling stations. SCIRI is one of the major Shia groups in the United National Alliance.

“This was impermissible, because the voting centres are restricted to IECI staff and monitors, and no other parties are allowed to be in there to influence voters,” said Adnan Muhammed, a member of SCIRI’s election campaign committee.

In the southern province of Muthanna, which includes the city of Samawah, the United Iraqi Alliance got 77 per cent of the vote while the Iraqi List got 17.5 per cent. The results here represented 164,690 counted votes, or 80 per cent of the total cast in the province.

The Alliance got 80 per cent of the vote in Thi Qar governorate, which includes Nassriyah, and the Iraqi List won 11 per cent, based on 399,245 ballot papers counted, 70 per cent of the total cast.

East of Thi Qar, 70 per cent of the vote in Missan province went to the Alliance and 19 per cent to the Iraqi List. Again, the results are incomplete and the figures are based on 185,750 ballots, 70 per cent of the total vote.

Initial results were also announced for polls held overseas, including Australia, France, Iran, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Britain and the United States.

In the overseas voting, the Kurdish Alliance List, made up of the two main Kurdish parties, has won the most votes so far, with 29 per cent. They were in the lead in European countries such as Britain and France. The list is made up of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, KDP, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, PUK.

The Iraqi National Alliance made a strong showing in Iran, where many Shia émigrés reside. A smaller group, the National Rafidain List, was ahead in Australia and came in a close second in the US. The list represents Iraqi Christians of the Chaldean and Assyrian groups.

Gina Chon is an IWPR editor/trainer and Aqil Jabbar is a trainee journalist; both are based in Iraq.

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United Iraqi Alliance does predictably well in southern provinces, though the count is far from complete.