Final Iraq election results due within "days", officials say

Final Iraq election results due within "days", officials say

A total of 85 per cent of votes cast in Iraq's March 7 general elections have been counted to date, with final results due in "a number of days", officials said Tuesday, dpa reported.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law coalition is leading in seven provinces - including Baghdad, the area around the capital and the largest electoral prize in the race.

   Former prime minister Ayad Allawi's Iraqi List, the main challenger to al-Maliki's bloc, is leading in five provinces.

A spokesperson for the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) said the outcome of the contest would only be announced once all votes had been counted.

This should take place "in a number of days," the spokesperson said.

The elections for the 325-seat legislature, the second since the 2003 US-led invasion, are seen as a key test of the country's stability ahead of the planned withdrawal of US troops.

Abbas al-Bayati, a candidate for State of Law, said Tuesday that the alliance had already formed committees to meet the winning parliamentary blocs with a view to forming a new government.

"The State of Law will win more than 100 seats in the new parliament and this number qualifies it to form the government through a coalition with two lists with similar political (views)," al-Bayati told the German Press Agency dpa.

"Committees were formed to discuss ideas and aspirations of other blocs and reach an agreement with any of them," he said, adding that the coalition had chosen al-Maliki to head the next government.

The chaotic and protracted process of announcing the results has compounded suspicions of manipulation in the vote count from some quarters.

Judge Qassim Al-Aboudi said Monday that the IHEC was investigating 205 claims of electoral fraud in the March 7 vote, as well as 31 claims from a previous special vote for emergency responders, and 72 claims from Iraqi expatriate voters.

Al-Maliki sought to minimize the fraud allegations Monday.

"Complaints presented to the commission are simple, and will not change the election's results," he said in a statement.

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