Baghdad: Partial counts from all of Iraq`s 18 provinces show the prime minister`s bloc leading in the country`s key parliamentary elections.
Iraq`s electoral commission said Sunday that Nouri al-Maliki`s State of Law coalition is leading in eight provinces.
The secular Iraqiya bloc headed by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi leads in four, while the religious Shiite Iraqi National Alliance and the main Kurdish coalition lead in three provinces each.
The results are based on partial vote counts released over the past three days, with the percentage of polling stations counted in each province spanning from 10 to 67 percent.
The March 7 election was Iraq`s second for a full-term government since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
Earlier a secular challenger to Iraq`s prime minister is leading by a slim margin ahead of a Kurdish alliance in partial election results from a northern, oil-rich province that is home to the disputed city of Kirkuk.
Iraq`s election commission says the Iraqiya group led by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has garnered 123,862 votes, just ahead of the Kurdish Alliance, which has 120,664 votes.
That was based on 61 percent of the votes tallied and released on Sunday for the province of Tamim, home to the city of Kirkuk.
Kirkuk is hotly contested among its Kurdish, Arab and Turkomen population.
Election officials were also releasing partial results for the remaining four provinces still in the balance in last Sunday`s parliamentary elections.