Sunday, February 13, 2005

Shiites win Iraqi polls with 48% votes

A Shiite-dominated ticket won the January 30 elections for the National Assembly, winning over 4m votes — 48% — of the ballots cast, officials said Sunday. A Kurdish alliance finished second with 2.2m votes or 26%. Officials said 8.5m votes were distributed among the 111 candidate lists. The results indicate the Shiites will have to form alliances within the National Assembly to push through their agenda and select a president and prime minister. The president and two vice presidents must be elected by a two-thirds majority. Earlier, the head of the Shiite party, Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, had predicted his United Iraqi Alliance would win over 60% of the vote. However, the results point to a major victory for the country’s long oppressed Shiite majority, oppressed under Saddam Hussein and deprived of national power since the establishment of the modern Iraqi state after World War I. The figures also indicate that many Sunni Arabs stayed at home on election day, with only 17,893 votes (2%) cast in Anbar province in the National Assembly race, a stronghold of the Sunni Muslim insurgency. In Ninevah province, which includes the third largest city Mosul, only 17% of the voters participated in the National Assembly race and 14% voted in the provincial council contests. A ticket headed by the country’s president Ghazi al-Yawer, a Sunni Arab, won only about 150,000 votes — less than 2%. A list headed by Sunni elder statesman Adnan Pachachi took only 12,000 votes — or 0.1%. The election commission said parties have three days to lodge complaints before the results are considered official.