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Iraq Transition

Pressure on for Iraqis to form new government

Election results certified; car bomb kills 7 near Baghdad mosque

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- With the release of certified results in last month's parliamentary elections, Iraqi officials face renewed pressure to form a new government amid a fresh outbreak of apparent sectarian violence Friday.

Seven Iraqis were killed and 22 others wounded when a car bomb detonated near a Shiite mosque in Dora, a Sunni-Shiite neighborhood in southern Baghdad, as prayers were about to begin, Iraqi police said.

On Thursday, a Sunni cleric was kidnapped elsewhere in the capital, and an insurgent video surfaced of U.S. journalist Jill Carroll, who pleaded for her kidnappers' demands to be met.

Her abductors have said they will kill Carroll if American and Iraqi authorities don't release all female prisoners in Iraq. (Full story)

The imam who was kidnapped has been identified as Sunni Sheikh Adel Khalil Daoud Hassan al-Azzaawi. Armed men dressed in Iraqi army uniforms arrived at his Baghdad home in three vehicles and kidnapped him Thursday evening but left his family behind, Iraqi emergency police said.

The violence comes as intense negotiations get under way to form a unity government dominated by Shiites and Kurds but inclusive of Sunni Arabs in powerful positions.

The results for the new 275-seat parliament, known as the Council of Representatives, confirmed the Shiite-led United Iraqi Alliance dominated the voting with 128 seats, followed by the Kurdish alliance with 53 seats. Both coalitions run the current transitional government.

Two Sunni coalitions -- the Iraqi Accord Front and Iraqi Front for National Dialogue -- won 44 and 11 seats, respectively. Two other Sunni groups garnered four seats, including three from a party called Reconciliation and Peace.

The combined total of 59 seats will give Sunni Arabs, who stayed away from the January 2005 polling and have formed the backbone of the insurgency, a bigger role in the new government.

The secular coalition of Ayad Allawi won 25 seats. The Kurdistan Islamic Union, which broke off from the Kurdish bloc, won five seats. Another Shiite group won two, and a Turkmen and a Christian group each won one.

Lawmakers must convene in 15 days, according to the new constitution. The Council of Representatives will choose a new president, who in turn will pick a prime minister from the winning United Iraqi Alliance.

Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and another Shiite, Vice President Adel Abdul Mehdi, are widely mentioned as top candidates for the post.

The new prime minister then will choose a Cabinet to be approved by majority vote.

Other developments

  • The Bush administration disregarded the expertise of the intelligence community, politicized the intelligence process and used unrepresentative data in making the case for the Iraq war, former CIA senior analyst Paul R. Pillar alleges in an article published Friday in the journal Foreign Affairs. (Full story)
  • Three people, including two police officers, were shot dead Friday in Baquba, north of Baghdad, said an official from the Diyala province's Joint Coordination Center. Two police also were wounded in the drive-by shootings.
  • Up to 1,000 demonstrators on Friday protested newspaper cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed in Kan'an near Baquba. The protesters burned the Danish flag and called on Denmark to issue an official apology for the caricatures. A Danish newspaper was the first to publish the cartoons, which have sparked outrage among Muslims worldwide. (See gallery of protests around the world)
  • Two U.S. Marines died of wounds Thursday from a roadside bombing while they were on patrol near Falluja, west of Baghdad, the military said Friday. The Marines were assigned to the 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). Since the start of the Iraq war in 2003, 2,267 U.S. troops have died.
  • CNN's Arwa Damon and Aneesh Raman contributed to this report.

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