iraqi elections 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
A leading Sunni politician said Friday his party would be open to an alliance with secular Shi'ites and Kurds to form a coalition government to run the country once the results are in from this week's parliament elections.
Election officials said the vote ran smoothly Thursday with minimum violence and no reports of fraud. But officials are investigating nearly 180 complaints of intimidation and other irregularities that could delay release of the results for at least two weeks.
The count continued Friday and no official figures have been released, although officials said some figures could be made public next week.
However, the alliance of Shi'ite religious parties that dominates the current government is expected to win the biggest share of the 275 parliament seats but not enough to rule without forming a coalition with other factions.
Shi'ites account for about 60 percent of the country's 27 million people, and turnout in the Shi'ite heartland of southern and central Iraq was reported high. Under the newly ratified constitution, the party with the biggest number of seats gets first crack at trying to form a government than can win parliament's endorsement.
But Sunni Arab politician Adnan al-Dulaimi predicted that the Shi'ite United Iraqi Alliance would fail to muster enough support in parliament. In an interview with The Associated Press, al-Dulaimi predicted that a coalition made up of his Iraqi Accordance Front, the Kurds and a party led by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a secular Shi'ite, would eventually end up in power.
"We believe that these elections will lead to forming a balanced government of all parts of the Iraqi people not controlled by a specific group, and this will lead to solving the problems," al-Dulaimi said. "We will not accept that any part of the Iraqi people be excluded unless they themselves don't want to take part."
A government with strong Sunni Arab representation could help defuse the Sunni-dominated insurgency and allow the United States and its coalition partners to begin removing troops next year.