Iraq's Supreme Court has ratified the results of parliamentary elections in March, confirming the secular coalition led by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi received the most votes.
Tuesday's certification marks an important step toward forming a new government.
None of the political groups in the March 7 vote were able to secure the 163 seats needed to form a majority. Mr. Allawi's coalition had the most seats with 91, just two more than the mainly Shi'ite group led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Mr. Maliki has insisted he should lead the government and has reached out to the third-largest seat winner, the Iraqi National Alliance.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Iraq's political leaders to move quickly to form an inclusive and representative government.
There have been concerns about Iraq's stability as the United States prepares to withdraw all its forces from the country by the end of next year.
The U.S. embassy in Baghdad released a statement calling Tuesday's court ruling an "important step in the right direction" as Iraq begins a "historic and peaceful transition of power."
The Iraqi National Alliance includes anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Sadr's supporters dislike Mr. Maliki because his government forces crushed their militia in 2008.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.