Iraq's electoral commission says partial results from Sunday's landmark elections show the main Shi'ite coalition leading in six of 18 provinces.
The United Iraqi Alliance, which has the support of influential Shi'ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, is ahead with about 75 percent of the 1.6 million ballots counted so far.
But election officials were quick to add that the ballots counted were from Baghdad province and five other mainly Shi'ite provinces (Najaf, Karbala, Dhi Qar, Muthanna, Qadisiyah) where the Alliance was expected to do well.
Running a distant second, with about 20 percent of the votes, is the candidate list led by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who is also a Shi'ite.
Final results are not expected for at least another week.
In another development, the head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Jalal Talabani, said he would seek the post of either prime minister or president in the new government. His announcement could possibly complicate national reconciliation talks.
Meanwhile, insurgents ambushed a mini-bus carrying Iraqi soldiers near Kirkuk Wednesday night, killing 12. Two U.S. Marines were also killed Wednesday. And at least 10 other Iraqis have been killed in attacks Thursday.
Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP, Reuters.