Maliki wins most seats in Iraqi elections
Prime Minister Nouri Maliki won the largest share of Iraqi parliamentary seats in last month's national elections, according to preliminary results released today.
The results dealt a blow to Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish rivals seeking to prevent him serving a third term.
Maliki won at least 93 seats, far more than his two main Shi'ite rivals, the movement of Muqtada Sadr and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, who won a combined 57 seats, according Iraq's electoral commission.
The size of Maliki's victory, with 1,074,000 votes in Baghdad alone, will make it much harder for any of his opponents to argue he is not the choice of the country's Shi'ite majority.
It is particularly important to him because he is waging a war with armed Sunni groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which holds territory in war-torn Syria and holds sway around central Iraq.
Final results are expected in the coming few weeks after Iraq's electoral commission rules on complaints of voter fraud and irregularities. The federal court then certifies the final results.
Maliki will now start a period of bargaining to see if he can bring on board his Shi'ite rivals, who have rejected his candidacy.
ISCI and the Sadrists have made clear the want a prime minister from within the Shi'ite majority - what they refer to as the National Alliance.
But Maliki's strong showing and his likely picking up of support from smaller Shi'ite parties makes it far harder for his opponents to oust him.