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PM's group leads in early Iraq election results

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Iraqi election results come in
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • PM Nuri al-Maliki's alliance led partial preliminary election results in Baghdad
  • Ten of Iraq's 18 provinces have announced early results
  • Final results are expected to be released at the end of the month
  • Nearly two out of three eligible voters turned out; 38 people killed on voting day
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Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's alliance led partial preliminary election results Saturday in Baghdad, where the most parliamentary seats are up for grabs, according to the electoral commission.

Ten of Iraq's 18 provinces have announced early results, but it may be some time before a clear picture emerges of who will lead war-torn Iraq.

Al-Maliki's State of Law alliance garnered 159,000 votes in Baghdad, but only 18 percent of the votes have been counted in Iraq's capital, according to the Independent High Electoral Commission.

Trailing State of Law were the predominantly Shiite Iraqi National Alliance (INA) -- which includes the controversial secular politician Ahmed Chalabi, as well as followers of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr -- with 108,000 votes and a coalition led by former interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi with 105,000 votes, the commission reported.

With less than a quarter of votes counted, it was too early to tell who will take Baghdad. It was also unclear which part of the city the counted votes included, which could cause a shift in the overall lead. Baghdad holds the most parliamentary seats, at 68 of the 325 seats, according to the electoral commission.

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Final results, which need to be certified by Iraq's Supreme Federal Court, are expected to be released at the end of the month. If no party wins a majority of seats, then coalition haggling will begin.

State of Law was leading in four provinces Saturday, according to the electoral commission. Early tallies put al-Maliki's group ahead in predominantly Shiite provinces in southern Iraq.

Al-Iraqia, a secular line up led by Allawi, a secular Shiite, has gained popularity and showed a strong following in predominantly Sunni areas. The group was ahead in three provinces, according to the electoral commission.

The INA is backed by Iran, Iraq's predominantly Shiite neighbor, and is made up of some of the Iraq's top Shiite religious parties including followers of anti-American cleric al-Sadr. It was leading in two provinces.

The Kurdish parties were taking the largest share of the vote in the majority Kurdish province of Irbil.

All of the results Saturday were preliminary.

The INA and Allawi's al-Iraqia both charged Thursday there had been vote fraud.

They asked election officials to publish results from every voting center across the country. The Independent High Electoral Commission told CNN they would be publishing those tally sheets on their Web site, though it wasn't clear when that would happen.

Election officials had originally said they would release early province-by province-results only when 30 percent of the votes had been counted in that province. But Thursday evening, they announced returns from three provinces that had not reached that threshold, under pressure from political blocs.

Millions of Iraqis defied the threat of violence Sunday to cast ballots in the parliamentary elections. Nearly two out of three eligible voters turned out. Some 38 people were killed in attacks on voting day.

About 6,200 candidates from more than 80 political entities are vying for 325 seats in the Council of Representatives, or the parliament.

The political coalition that ends up with the most number of seats in parliament will put forward a candidate for prime minister.

CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq and Jomana Karadsheh contributed to this report.