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Allawi Calls on Iraqis to Set Aside Differences


Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi says Sunday's national elections were a major blow to insurgents, and he is urging all Iraqis to put aside their differences and work together toward peace and a better future.

In a televised address Monday, Mr. Allawi said Iraq is entering a new era, and appealed to all Iraqis, whether they voted or not, to contribute to its success.

Mr. Allawi said his interim government would continue to run Iraq until the newly-elected 275-member national assembly chooses new leadership. In the meantime, in a reassurance to minority Sunni Muslims, he pledged to start a national dialogue to guarantee that the voice of all Iraqis is present in the new government.

Sunday's winners will not be known for at least a week. Election officials said Monday that the first round of vote counting has been completed at local precincts, and a second round has begun.

The election commission estimates that up to eight million people - more than 60 percent of all eligible voters - cast ballots. Meanwhile, the organization in charge of expatriate voting says Monday about 93 percent - or 265,000 - registered Iraqis living abroad cast ballots during three days of voting in 14 countries.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.

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