Initial results: Tight race between Maliki, Allawi
Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was locked in a tight contest to hold on to his job on Friday, according to initial election results. Maliki faces a strong challenge from ex-premier Iyad Allawi, whose secular Iraqiya bloc has emerged as the strongest challenger to the incumbent's hopes of retaining his post, initial voting figures showed.
According to AFP, Iraqiya has alleged that fraud took place during Sunday's polls in favour of Maliki's State of Law Alliance.
Meanwhile, initial results from four of Iraq's 18 provinces released on Thursday showed Maliki and Allawi were locked in a tight race for the top job. Preliminary figures for Najaf, Babil, Diyala and Salaheddin put the State of Law Alliance ahead in the first two provinces, while Iraqiya was in front in the latter pair.
In southern Maysan province, the Iraqi National Alliance, a coalition led by Shiite religious parties, was in the lead, with 24 percent of votes counted. State of Law was second, with Iraqiya third.
In the autonomous region of Kurdistan, the Kurdistania alliance, made up of the region's two long-dominant parties, was in the lead in Arbil province with 27 percent of votes counted.
Complete results are expected to be announced on March 18 and the final ones at the end of the month.