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Iraqi Shi'ite Coalition Top Vote-Getter in Landmark Polls

A coalition of Iraq's majority Shi'ite Muslims has won nearly half the votes in last month's landmark elections for a transitional national assembly.

A slate of Kurdish parties finished second with about 25 percent of the nearly 8.5 million votes cast January 30. A slate led by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi finished third with 14 percent.

Speaking Sunday in Baghdad, an elections commission spokesman hailed the poll results as "a new birth for Iraq."

The 275-seat assembly will pick a new government to succeed the interim administration now in power. The assembly is to be dissolved and a new parliament elected by the end of this year.

The tally shows only two percent of eligible voters in Sunni-dominated al-Anbar province went to the polls, while 17 percent voted in Ninevah province.

Parties have three days to file protests against to the vote tally, before results become official.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.