Early indications from the count in Iraq’s provincial elections appear to show the prime minister Nuri al-Maliki on course for big victories. If that is confirmed in official results, it would mark a shift of power away from the religious parties into the hands of Maliki – who was once seen as weak.
But it will be at least two weeks before the official results are known, and that has led some candidates to fear vote rigging. Hussein Ali Hussein, a Fadhila Party candidate said: “It is very worrying. Are we larger than America?” he asked. “It didn’t take America long to announce their results.”
Turnout was lower than hoped, but there was not one major attack, bringing many to hope the country has left the bloodshed of recent years behind.
In Tikrit, a sculpture to commemorate the detained Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at ex-President Bush, has been taken down. It was in the grounds of an orphanage, but authorities were reported to be unhappy about exposing children to politics so young. Muntazer al-Zaidi won widespread support in the Middle-East for the incident. He has been in a Baghdad jail ever since.
Signs of big Maliki victories in Iraqi elections