15 Mar 2010

Iraq PM strengthens lead in elections

10:14 am on 15 March 2010

Prime Minister Nouri Nouri al-Maliki appears to be strengthening his lead over main rival Iyad Allawi in Iraq's parliamentary elections.

Partial results are in from all 18 provinces and show Mr Maliki's State of Law coalition leading in seven provinces, including Baghdad and Shia-dominated Basra, the BBC reports.

The alliance led by former prime minister, Mr Allawi, is ahead in five provinces including oil-rich Kirkuk, where Kurdish parties are expected to win.

The election is Iraq's second parliamentary election since former president Saddam Hussein was ousted in 2003 by a American-led international force.

The final results are not expected for another few days.