The Iraqi prime minister's coalition and its main secular rival both claimed to be ahead in the vote count Monday, a day after historic parliamentary elections that the top US commander said would let all but 50,000 American troops come home by the end of summer.
Sunday's election, which took place against a backdrop of violence in Baghdad, marked a turning point for the country's nascent democracy. The winner will help determine whether Iraq can resolve its sectarian divisions and preserve the nation's fragile security as U.S. troops leave.
Initial results for some provinces, as well as for Baghdad — an area essential to determining any winner — were to be announced Tuesday.
With ballots still being counted, officials from both the State of Law coalition led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the rival Iraqiya claimed to be leading. Iraqiya is a secular alliance led by Shi'ite former prime minister Ayad Allawi, but it also contains many Sunnis