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Allawi Iyad in LebanonFormer Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s secular Iraqiya bloc won the most seats in Iraq’s March 7 parliamentary election, two more than incumbent Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s State of Law Alliance bloc, official results showed Friday.

Iraqiya won 91 seats in the 325-member Council of Representatives, compared to the 89 won by Maliki, a fellow Shia, election officials said.

The Iraqi National Alliance, a coalition led by Shia religious groups, came third with 70 seats. Kurdistania, comprised of the autonomous Kurdish region’s two long-dominant blocs, won 43 seats.

Allawi’s victory in the March 7 poll signals he will be given the first opportunity to form a government, which would require a coalition holding at least a majority of 163 seats.

If he fails to do so within 30 days, Iraq’s president, who himself is elected by parliament, would choose the leader of another bloc to try to form a coalition government.

During an interview on Friday with Al-Sharqiyah television, Allawi vowed to work with all sides to form a coalition government.

Maliki

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, whose bloc came second in Iraq’s March 7 election, said he did not accept the results released on Friday because they were not final.

“The election results are not final,” Maliki told a press conference in Baghdad. “Of course we don’t accept this result because it is preliminary.”

US praises elections

The US praises Iraq’s legislative elections as a significant milestone, US State Department spokesperson Philip Crowley said on Friday.

US Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill and the American commander in the country, General Ray Odierno, also issued a statement on Friday that there is no evidence of widespread or serious fraud in the elections.

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