Shia majority for Iraq parliament
"The clergy-backed Shia United Iraqi Alliance has been officially declared the winner of the Iraqi general election, taking 140 seats of the new 275 seat National Assembly. The Kurdish parties came second with 75 seats and the party of the interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, a secular Shia with a pro Washington stance, took 40 seats. The Assembly will now choose a president and two vice-presidents, who in turn pick a prime minister and cabinet. The new government will be in power for ten months and is charged with drafting a new constitution." (Times)
"The United Nations praised Iraq's first post-Saddam Hussein election on Thursday and said that even if it was not perfect, it was extremely good. The United Nations was given the task or organising the election early last year and said at the time that the timeframe was extremely tight. There were calls for the election to be postponed, but Iraq's Electoral Commission, formed with the help of the United Nations, refused to delay it. Despite calls for a boycott from many Arab Sunni parties and threats of intimidation from insurgents, more than 8.5 million Iraqis, or 58 percent of eligible voters, turned up to vote on Jan. 30." (Reuters)
"Members of the Shiite alliance party have been meeting this week to discuss their candidate for prime minister and the current interim vice-president, Ibrahim Jaafari, was an early favorite, the report said. While Iraq's electoral commission announced the election results Sunday, it has spent the last four days considering 47 complaints arising from the elections. Election Commission spokesman Farid Ayar told al-Arabiya television most of the complaints had been resolved." (New Kerala, India)
"A meeting of candidates of the Shiite alliance later failed to reach agreement on who should be their candidate for prime minister. “The meeting was spent looking at possible candidates for the prime minister’s job as well as candidates for ministerial portfolios,” said Nuri Kamel Mohammed, a political adviser to Dawa, one of the two main parties on the winning list.
“Nominations have been left to another meeting,” he said following talks at the offices of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the other main party on the list backed by Shiite leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani." (Arab News)
"Chalabi is one of two politicians being considered as prime minister by the main Shiite alliance, which won a majority in the new 275-seat National Assembly. His main rival is Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who like Chalabi is a Shiite who lived in exile in London for years. (Related story: Shiites win majority of new Iraq assembly) The U.S. government paid Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress millions of dollars over the years. The group was one source for intelligence on the state of Saddam's weapons programs and atrocities committed by his regime. But last year U.S. and Iraqi officials raided Chalabi's Baghdad home amid reports that he shared U.S. military information with contacts in Iran. He says the charge is false." (USA Today)
The elections appear to be a success even if it may take weeks before a legitimate governement can be established.
The election process started in October 2003 when the "UN Security Council approved amended US resolution on Iraq giving new legitimacy to US-led administration but stressing early transfer of power to Iraqis." (BBC)
US-backed Shia secular parties (led by interim PM Iyad Allawi) have been defeated and the future government will be led by Shia religious groups and Kurdish parties.
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Arab News, Saudi Arabia: