- It was Iraq's first nationwide vote since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. forces
- Iraq has battled sectarian violence for months
- Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's party wins but falls short of majority
The Iraqi Prime Minister's coalition has won the most seats in Parliament, despite the cancellation of ballots from 300 polling stations, election officials said Monday.
Votes in those stations were nullified because of attempted tampering and inconsistencies, the nation's Independent High Electoral Commission said.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law coalition won 92 out of 328 parliamentary seats in last month's election, far more than any other political bloc, according to the commission.
His main rivals finished with fewer than 30 seats, putting the Shiite Prime Minister far ahead of his competition but short of a majority.
Though the win improves his chances of a third term, his coalition must reach out to other blocs to gain enough support.
Al-Maliki faced fierce opposition amid the worst sectarian violence in more than five years.
"As the people of Iraq have now spoken, I call upon all elected representatives to work together for the future of Iraq," said Nickolay Mladenov, the top United Nations official in Iraq.
Last year was the deadliest in Iraq since 2008, with more than 8,800 people killed, most of them civilians, according to the United Nations.
Tensions are fueled by widespread discontent among Sunnis, who say they are marginalized by the Shiite-led government and unfairly targeted by brutal security tactics.
Some 277 political entities across Iraq contested for 328 seats of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, the country's parliament. There were 9,032 candidates.
"Today's announcement is a testament to the courage and resilience of the Iraqi people, and another milestone in the democratic development of Iraq," the United States Embassy said after the results were announced.
"As the process moves toward government formation, we encourage all political entities to conduct talks in a spirit of cooperation and respect for the will of the voters."
Iraqis voted April 30 in their first nationwide polls since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. forces.
"Given the challenges confronting Iraq, it is essential that a new government and its leaders seek to unite the country through the formation of a new government that is supported by all Iraqi communities and that is prepared to advance tangible and implementable programs," said Bernadette Meehan, spokeswoman for the National Security Council.