Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi came one step closer to returning to power today, as the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) issued results declaring his Iraqiya bloc the winner of the extremely close election.
According to IHEC’s results Iraqiya has netted 91 seats in the 325-member Iraqi parliament, while the State of Law party of current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki won only 89. The Iraqi National Alliance has come in third and will need to be courted by either side to form a government.
But for the time being the first crack at forming a government goes to Allawi and his secularist bloc, which dominated the vote in Sunni provinces. This will be no small task, as the wrangling to form the next government is expected to stretch on well into the summer.
And while Prime Minister Maliki praised the election for its “transparency,” he says he will not accept the results. Members of his State of Law party were already holding protests across his political strongholds early in the day, suggesting that the loss was not entirely unexpected.
Maliki and his supporters have been demanding a full manual recount for over a week now, citing the better than expected showing by the Iraqiya bloc. IHEC has rejected the calls, however, and though Maliki has promised to challenge the results it seems unlikely that they will be revised after the announcement.