Iraq's final election results secure
victory for Maliki
February 20, 2009
BAGHDAD, — Final election results released
Thursday echoed what already was known: The
political party of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki
won big in provincial polls Jan. 31, a victory
stemming from his crackdown on sectarian violence in
the war-torn nation.
Preliminary results released early this month showed
that Maliki's State of Law coalition won a plurality
in nine of the 14 provinces that voted, more than
any other party. The success highlighted that voters
want a strong central and secular-minded government,
marking a departure from the religious parties that
had enjoyed power. The incumbents, the
Iranian-allied Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq,
The success of Maliki's State of Law coalition --
highlighted in oil-rich Basra province, where his
party locked 20 out of 35 seats -- will boost the
prime minister's popularity ahead of parliamentary
elections slated for later this year. Maliki's party
also took 28 out of 57 seats in Baghdad province.
Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission
estimated voter turnout at 51 percent.
Maliki enjoyed a surge in popularity over the past
year after he successfully cracked down on Shiite
Muslim militias in Baghdad and southern Iraq. At the
same time, the Islamist prime minister redrew
himself as a pragmatic leader bent on stamping out
sectarian violence and divisions.
In one of few surprising details announced Thursday,
Maliki's party won eight seats, the most of any
party, in the somewhat mixed-sect Babil province.
In the Sunni Muslim-majority province of Salahuddin,
the State of Law coalition won two seats. The Iraqi
Accord Front and the Iraqi National List came out on
''We expected to get more, even though we didn't
have a good campaign,'' said Walweed al Hilli, a
member of Maliki's Dawa party. ``We focused on other
The Shiite Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq got
clobbered, losing big in much of the southern
provinces it once governed. The party has advocated
creating a semiautonomous region in the south
similar to Kurdistan in the north. Such a division
would give the party control over the region, which
houses many oil fields and the only seaport.
One Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq member
attributed the loss to several factors, ranging from
what he called the Independent High Electoral
Commission's bad planning to voters' ignorance of
''There is something wrong with IHEC,''
parliamentarian Hadi al Amari said. Amari cited
curfews and voter confusion as reasons that people
couldn't reach the polls and pick his party.
He also said that voters didn't realize that
reconstruction focused too much on Baghdad instead
of the provinces. Sectarian clashes in the south
chased away building efforts and services suffered,
he added. ''Somehow we lost for that,'' Amari said.
Two slates backed by the party of radical Shiite
cleric Muqtada al Sadr finished closely behind
Maliki's party. One of the two slates, the
Independent Free Men Trend, secured six of 28 seats
in Najaf province.
The Shiite-dominated Karbala province voted in favor
of a former member of the Sunni-led Baath party,
which ruled the country under the despot Saddam
Hussein. Former Karbala Mayor Yousef Majid al
Habboubi, who's a secular Shiite, won, voters said,
because of his reputation as an accomplished public
servant. The State of Law coalition tied in second
place with the Hope of Rafidain party with nine
In Anbar province, once a hotbed of the Sunni
insurgency, final results may have been a sigh of
relief to some. Sunni Arab tribal sheiks, winning
with eight of 29 seats, had threatened violence if
the rivals whom they accused of fraud proved
Election officials nullified 30 ballot boxes, most
in Anbar, after finding evidence of fraud. The
number is tiny compared with the thousands of polls
where Iraqis voted.
The mostly Arab Nineveh province in the north could
turn volatile in coming months. The Kurdish
incumbents lost to the Sunni Arab nationalist party
al Hadbaa, which took 48.8 percent of the vote,
giving them 19 of 37 seats.
Arab-Kurdish tensions have run high in the region,
which the country's recent security gains have
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