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Shi’ite Parties Gain Seats, No Word On Kidnapped American Journalist


In Iraq, election officials confirmed that Shi’ite religious parties garnered the most votes in last month's parliamentary elections. And the fate of a kidnapped American journalist remains unclear as the kidnappers deadline for the release of all Iraqi female prisoners passes.

Preliminary results of the December 15th election announced Friday indicate the United Iraqi Alliance, a Shi’ite religious party, secured 128 of 275 seats, ten seats short of a majority. The Kurdish Alliance won 53 seats. And two Sunni Arab parties won a total of 55 seats. Therefore the new Iraqi parliament will require a coalition.

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. said, "What form the government takes, who is seating in what seat, what coalitions are formed, what the platform of the government looks like -- those are questions for the Iraqis to answer themselves. We encourage them, and the rest of the world encourages them to work together. To work across lines, to work across whatever divisions may exist in society."

The deadline for the current government to free Iraqi female prisoners, set by the captors of an American journalist, passed.

The fate of Jill Carroll, a freelance reporter for an American newspaper, remains uncertain. Her kidnappers had threatened to kill her Friday if their demand for the release of Iraqi female inmates was not met.

There were many appeals to her captors as the deadline neared. In Baghdad, a senior member of the Sunni Arab Iraqi Accordance Front, Adnan al Dulaimi, said Ms. Carroll's kidnapping was un-Islamic.

"I appeal to the kidnappers to release this journalist who came to Iraq to cover our situation, to defend our rights,” he said. “She is a journalist who condemned the war in Iraq and we call on everybody to protect all the journalists, and call on them to release all the journalists and innocent people."

Ms. Carroll was abducted January 7th after leaving al Dulaimi's office, where she had hoped to interview the political leader. Her interpreter was killed in the attack.

A delegation from the Washington-based Council of American Islamic Relations was in Jordan, enroute to Iraq to appeal for Ms. Carroll's life.

CAIR executive director Nihad Awad told the news media, "We appeal to them on humanitarian grounds, to release this reporter. She is known for her objectivity. Reporters should not be subject, and should not be harmed to any kind of kidnapping in any situation."

Pleas from Jim Carroll, the 28 year-old journalist's father, were also broadcast on Arabic television stations.

More than 240 foreigners have been kidnapped since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Thirty-nine have been killed.