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Shiites Win Slim Majority in New Iraqi Parliament

BY Admin  February 17, 2005 at 1:40 PM EDT

The United Iraqi Alliance, a coalition of mostly Shiite Islamist religious parties, gained 140 seats in the 275-seat National Assembly. The Kurdish coalition followed with 75 seats, and interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s party, a Shiite secular group, received 40 seats.

Iraq’s new government will have a president and two vice presidents, all largely ceremonial roles, who must be approved by two-thirds of the assembly, according to the Associated Press. Once they are named, they will select a prime minister and agree on a cabinet of ministers who must be approved by a majority.

The assembly also will draft a permanent constitution and prepare for general elections at year’s end.

The certified results were announced after a deadline to file complaints expired Wednesday. Election commission spokesman Farid Ayar told Al-Arabiya television that 47 complaints were filed and most of them were resolved.

Top Shiite politicians said they would select their nominee for prime minister through a secret ballot, expected to take place Friday.

In the running for the post are Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the leader of the religious Dawa Party — one of Iraq’s oldest parties which has close ties to Iran, and secular Shiite Ahmad Chalabi, who left Iraq as a teen and leads the Iraqi National Congress.

Kurdish parties agreed to support the Shiite alliance’s choice of prime minister as long as they can select someone for the largely ceremonial role of president, reported the AP. Jalal Talabani, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, has indicated a desire to fill that post.

Sunni Arabs, who received favor under former dictator Saddam Hussein even though they make up a minority of the population, largely stayed away from the polls either because they were boycotting the election or feared violence.