02/13/2005, 00.00
IRAQ
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Final results released

About 8.55 million voters cast their ballot. The al-Sistani-backed coalition won 47.6 per cent of the vote, Kurds, 25.4 per cent, Iyad Allawi's list, 13.6 per cent. Turn out was 59 per cent. Sunnis' absence is worrisome.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – In a press conference Iraq's Election Commission today released the official results for the historic January 30 election.

Currently, the press conference is still underway with members of the Commission still answering reporters' questions but the results, which include votes cast by Iraqis abroad, point to a great victory by the coalition of Shiite parties backed by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Although some predicted that it might take as much as 60 per cent of the vote, its 47.6 per cent score easily puts it first.

The Kurdish list, which took 25.4 per cent, came in second place scoring too a great victory.

Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's list, which some had predicted could win because of his position and US backing, scored 13.6 per cent.

The turnout which was initially expected to be as high as 72 per cent was in fact 59 per cent.

The Commission praised the election as a first "sign of democracy for the peoples" of the Middle East. It added that unless legal challenges were submitted within the next three days, the election results would be declared final.

Most Sunnis (about 20 per cent of Iraq's population) did not participate for lack of security; some Sunnis refused to vote with foreign troops occupying the country and called for their withdrawal. In some areas, Sunni participation was only 2 per cent.

Analysts are concerned that Sunni exclusion might lead to a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites.

Under Saddam Hussein's regime Sunnis held power at the exclusion of Shiites.

In the last few days, several attacks have taken place against Shiite religious and civilian targets.

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