Iraq SC ratifies March election results
Iraq`s Supreme Court has officially declared Iraqiya alliance as the winner.
Baghdad: Iraq`s supreme court on Tuesday ratified the results of the country`s March general election, clearing the way for a faster pace to government formation talks which remain in limbo.
The ruling confirms initial results released in late March that put former premier Iyad Allawi`s Iraqiya bloc in the lead, followed closely by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki`s State of Law alliance.
"The court has decided to approve the results of the elections," supreme court chief Midhat al-Mahmoud said.
Mahmoud reiterated a previous court decision, however, that deals a blow to Allawi`s claim to have the right to be awarded the first opportunity to form a government.
"The biggest parliamentary bloc... will be decided in the first session of the parliament," he said, indicating a coalition agreed before the Council of Representatives has its first session would gain primacy over Iraqiya.
Iraq`s constitution requires that parliament be seated within 15 days of the certification of election results.
It must first select a speaker, which is then followed by the naming of a new president who will then call on the leader of the biggest parliamentary bloc to form a government.
Iraqiya won 91 seats in the Iraq`s 325-member parliament, followed by State of Law with 89.
The Iraqi National Alliance (INA), led by Shiite religious groups, took 70 seats, while a coalition of parties hailing from Iraq`s autonomous Kurdish region holds 59 seats.
The fact that no clear winner emerged from the March 7 poll has meant that protracted coalition negotiations have ensued as blocs jockey to form a parliamentary majority.
Earlier this month, however, State of Law and the INA announced they would form a post-election coalition, leaving them just short of a majority, though they have yet to formalise the arrangement.
The ratification ruling was hailed by the US embassy as "an important step in the right direction as Iraq undertakes what will be a historic and peaceful transition of power from one elected government to another."
"With the election results officially certified, we call on Iraq`s political leaders to move forward without delay to form an inclusive and representative government to work on behalf of the Iraqi people," it said in a statement.
The impasse over the formation of a government comes as the US military pulls its troops out of Iraq, in line with the terms of a bilateral security agreement between Baghdad and Washington.
All American combat troops are set to leave Iraq by the end of August, leaving about 50,000 to advise and train their Iraqi counterparts. A complete withdrawal is due by the end of 2011.
The supreme court also ruled that two successful candidates would be barred from taking their seats but would be replaced by colleagues from within their own political parties.
Furat Mohsen Saeed was a serving military officer while Ammar Abdulsattar al-Karbuli has a warrant out for his arrest. They were members of the INA and Iraqiya respectively.
Full results from the election were initially expected to be ratified in early April, but counting delays, multiple complaints and appeals from political groups have caused setbacks.
Figures released on Tuesday, meanwhile, showed that 337 Iraqis died as a result of violence in May, slightly higher than the previous month.
US and Iraqi security officials have warned that a long period of coalition formation could give insurgent groups an opportunity to further destabilise the country.