Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi says his countrymen's mass participation in this week's national elections has defeated those who seek power through violence, and he is calling for all Iraqis to work together for peace.

Speaking to his nation Monday, Mr. Allawi appealed to all Iraqis - to those who cast ballots and to those who did not vote - to put aside their differences and join forces to build the country's new political system.

In comments televised worldwide, Mr. Allawi said that the big turnout for Sunday's landmark vote means "terrorists now know they cannot win."

The prime minister said his interim government will continue to run Iraq until the newly-elected national assembly chooses a new leadership. Mr. Allawi promised he will work to draw all groups of Iraqis into the next government.

There is no word yet on the makeup of the new, 275-member assembly. Election officials expect to spend over a week compiling final results of Iraq's first multiparty vote in half a century - since 1954.

Turnout was far higher than expected. Iraq's election commission estimates up to 8 million people - more than 60 percent of all eligible voters - cast ballots.

Kurds in the north and majority Shi'ites in the south voted in large numbers. In Sunni Muslim areas of central Iraq, voter turnout was lower, but even there it appeared to be higher than anticipated.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.