Iraq's Electoral Commission has released the final results of the country's December 15 National Election. They show the largest Shi'ite Coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance, maintained its near majority in the parliament.
The results were broadcast live on Iraqi government TV, as one election worker read the names of the candidates elected to the 275-seat assembly.
Nearly two months after the election, the results were of little surprise. They came after challenges by Sunni groups that the Shi'ite parties had rigged the votes. Iraq's Independent Electoral Commission found some instances of fraud, but nothing on the scale that would change the vote substantially. Graig Jannis, the non-voting United Nations member on the commission, commended Iraqis for turning out in large numbers.
"This was an Iraqi election administered by Iraqis," he said. "It is encouraging that the new parliament will be broadly representative of Iraq's diverse communities, and will include a substantial number of women. And I congratulate all my colleagues in the IECI for success in very challenging circumstances."
The final tally shows the Shi'ite United Iraqi Alliance with 128 votes out of the total 275-member assembly. The Kurdish Alliance won 53 seats, and the Sunni Arab parties took a total of 55 seats.
As the results were announced Friday, a car bomb exploded at a Sunni mosque in a south Baghdad neighborhood. At least eight people died in the explosion.
In recent weeks, Sunnis and Shi'ites have accused one another of fueling sectarian violence, assassinations and kidnappings.
U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad released a statement Friday urging that the new Iraqi government be based on national unity, formed without regard to sectarianism, committed to peace and with capable ministers who place loyalty to Iraq above loyalty to faction. The statement said the ministers should be dedicated to the defense of Iraqi democracy, not to party militias.
According to Iraqi law, the parliament now has two weeks to choose a president and two vice presidents. That will be the first step in what is expected to be a drawn out process toward choosing a prime minister and cabinet. Some Iraqi and American officials have predicted the new government will not be completely formed until early May.