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U.S. welcomes Iraq's certification of election results

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • March 7 election results certified by Iraq's Federal Supreme Court
  • Iraqiya bloc of Ayad Allawi emerges at fore with 91 seats
  • New parliament must be called to session within 15 days

Washington (CNN) -- The White House on Tuesday welcomed the certification by Iraq's Federal Supreme Court of the March 7 parliamentary elections across the nation's 18 provinces.

"We congratulate the newly elected members of the Council of Representatives and look forward to working with them in pursuit of our shared goals of expanding peace and security in Iraq and in the region," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs in a statement. "It is now time for Iraq's political leaders to accelerate their negotiations on the formation of an inclusive and representative government that is responsive to the needs of the Iraqi people."

"The electoral commission has worked in a careful, professional way to bring the process to this concluding point," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a statement. "This experience demonstrates that Iraqis want to use the political process to choose their leaders and settle differences."

Clinton called on Iraq's political leaders "to move forward without delay to form an inclusive and representative government that will work on behalf of the Iraqi people."

Tuesday's announcement is considered a final step toward affirmation of the victory of the Iraqiya bloc headed by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

The announcement came from the chairman of Supreme Judicial Council, Medhat al-Mahmoud. According to the constitution, the Presidency Council of Iraq must call the new parliament into session within 15 days.

The chairman of Supreme Judicial Council, Medhat al-Mahmoud, told reporters that questions remain about two races but that their final disposition would not affect the distribution of seats among the coalitions.

"This is 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," said the U.S. Embassy in a statement.

"Now is the time for all political leaders to come together to put the interests of the Iraqi people foremost in their negotiations over the makeup of the new government."

Allawi's bloc edged out Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law coalition by two seats in the final count for the 325-member parliament, officials said last week.

Allawi's bloc won 91 seats and the State of Law coalition gained 89. The Iraqi National Alliance, dominated by Shiite parties, got 70 seats and a Kurdish alliance got 43.

Now Allawi needs to begin the tough work of gathering at least 163 seats to forge a coalition government.

Allawi, who served as prime minister in 2004, is a secular Shiite whose bloc includes prominent Sunni Arab politicians, including Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi.