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Iraq Certifies Election Results

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The Shiite-led United Iraqi Alliance will hold more than half of the nation's 275-member transitional National Assembly, according to final certified results announced Thursday.

The UIA, backed by powerful Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, will have 140 seats, the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq said.

The Kurdish alliance, second-place winner in the January 30 elections, will have 75 assembly seats.

The Iraqi list, led by interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, earned 40 seats. Smaller parties took the remaining assembly spots.

The certification of election results and the allocation of assembly seats follows Sunday's announcement of uncertified vote totals and a three-day complaint period.

Although the UIA got just 48 percent of the vote, ballots for parties with very small totals were redistributed to more popular coalitions -- giving the UIA more than half of the assembly seats, The Associated Press reported.

The major role of the assembly will be to write a permanent national constitution, which would be put to a national referendum by mid-October. Elections for a permanent government would be held in December if the constitution is approved.

Voter turnout -- more than 8 million votes were cast out of more than 14 million eligible voters -- was dramatic, with many Shiite Arabs and Kurds going to the polls.

Turnout among Sunni Arabs, the group that dominated Iraq's government under Saddam Hussein, was low. Much of the insurgency has been centered in the country's Sunni heartland.

Other parties winning assembly seats include: interim President Ghazi al-Yawar's Iraqiyun, with 5 seats; Iraq Turkmen Front , 3 seats; Independent Coalitions, 3 seats; Islamic Labor Organization, 2 seats; Islamic Kurdistan Society, 2 seats; People's Union, 2 seats, Reconciliation and Liberation Front, 1 seat; National Democratic Coalition, 1 seat; and Rafidain Front, 1 seat.

On another political front, Iraqi politicians are wrangling over the selection of a transitional prime minister in the new government.

Ibrahim al-Jaafari, head of the Dawa Party, has emerged as a top candidate for the post among officials of the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), the Shiite-led coalition that handily carried the January 30 election.

Others vying for the prime ministership are Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress and Adel Abdul Mahdi, the interim finance minister and member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

UIA spokesman Humam Hamoudi told CNN that Mahdi has not withdrawn, as had been reported by some media outlets, but has expressed his willingness to withdraw for the sake of the alliance's unity.

Chalabi was a key confidante to the Bush administration in the run-up to the war who later fell out of favor with Washington amid questions over whether he supplied misleading or false information about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction -- which were never found.

The Associated Press reported that top Shiite politicians will conduct a secret ballot Friday to decide who will be named prime minister.


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