6 Feb 2009

PM on top after elections in Iraq

7:08 am on 6 February 2009

Preliminary results from provincial elections in Iraq show big wins for a bloc headed by Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.

His State of Law Coalition has emerged as the largest group across the Shia provinces of southern Iraq.

Mr Maliki campaigned on a non-sectarian law-and-order platform.

Preliminary results confirmed the State of Law Coalition won 38% of votes in Baghdad and 37% in Basra.

The coalition also won substantial victories in seven of eight other Shi'ite provinces in the south.

Secular and independent parties also fared well across Iraq.

Sunni Arab parties won in Nineveh province in the north. Sunnis comprise the majority there, but Kurds controlled the provincial government because many voters boycotted the previous election in 2005.

Saturday's election was peaceful.

National elections are due later this year.