Provincial elections: al Maliki triumphs in Baghdad and Basra. Anbar goes to tribal Sunnis
Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The coalition of Shiite prime minister Nouri al Maliki has won in 10 of the 14 provinces where voting was conducted, but it can count on a clear majority only in the capital of Baghdad, and in Basra in southern Iraq. In the other provinces, the prime minister will have to seek allies among the independent candidates or rival politicians.
This is the picture that emerges from the official results of the election for the renewal of the provincial councils, held last January 31 in 14 of the 18 provinces to make up the country, and published yesterday by the Independent High Electoral Commission. The provincial councils, with a mandate for the next four years, are required to elect the governors of the provinces within 30 days.
In Baghdad, the State of Law coalition, led by Prime Minister al Maliki, won 28 of the 57 seats up for election. In Basra, it won 20 out of 35. In both cities, the prime minister's party has therefore secured a large majority; in the other Shiite provinces of the country, although it received a relative majority of the votes, the prime minister's party must make alliances in order to form the local governments.
The tribal Sunni leaders of the Awakening Council won in Anbar, in the western part of Iraq, taking eight seats out of the 29 that were open. The Awakening Council includes the militia groups that joined the forces under United States command at the end of 2006, in order to eradicate al Qaeda from the area. The remaining seats were divided among the other Sunni factions.
In the province of Nineveh, the clear victory went to al Hadba, a nationalist Arab coalition that won 19 seats out of 37. The alliance of Kurdish forces, which won the elections in 2005 because of the boycott by the Sunni faction, obtained 12 seats. Apart from Baghdad and Basra, where the situation seems clear-cut, in the other Shiite majority provinces it will be necessary to wait for the shuffling of alliances to see which coalitions will govern the various provincial councils.
These coalitions and alliances are important not only in the local context, but also and above all from the national perspective. Political elections will be hald t the end of 2009, and the rearrangement of alliances could cast doubt on the leadership of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki.