Shiia Slates Win in Iraq, Call for UnityBy Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2005 - The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq announced the results of the nationwide voting that took place Jan. 30.
Commission officials announced the results in a Baghdad news conference Feb. 13. As expected, Shiia groups took the most votes. Officials with the Shiia slates called on all Iraqis to cooperate as the new government takes power.
The United Iraqi Alliance - a Shiia group that includes Shiia representatives spanning the ideological spectrum - came in first with just over 47 percent of the votes. A Kurdish alliance came in second with 27 percent and interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's slate came in third with 14 percent.
More than 8.5 million Iraqis voted in the elections. This is 58 percent of the eligible population. Sunni Arabs, who make up some 20 percent of the population, stayed away from the polls.
Voters chose from more than 100 slates of candidates in the election - a far cry from Saddam Hussein's Baath Party elections when people could only check one box.
President Bush applauded the Iraqi people for their courage. "Two weeks ago, more than 8 million Iraqis defied terrorists and went to the polls," he said in a written White House statement. "The world saw long lines of Iraqi men and women voting in a free and fair election for the first time in their lives.
"I congratulate the Iraqi people for defying terrorist threats and setting their country on the path of democracy and freedom," the president noted.
He also congratulated coalition nations that helped provide security for the election.
The election was for the 275-member National Assembly. The first job for that body is to elect the president, two deputy presidents and a prime minister. It will then become the constitutional convention for the nation.
If all goes well, the constitution will be presented to the people of Iraq not later than Aug. 15. They must vote on the document not later than Oct. 15. If that's accepted, the Iraqis must go to the polls not later than Dec. 15 to elect a new government.
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