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Iraq’s Allawi to begin talks on coalition government

Iraq’s former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has begun talks on forming a government following his bloc’s narrow victory in the country’s parliamentary elections.

Preliminary results from the March 7 vote showed Allawi’s al-Iraqiya Alliance secured 91 seats in the 325-member Council of Representatives, two more than those won by incumbent Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition.

Al-Maliki has vowed to contest the results through a “legal process”, insisting that figures released by the election commission remained “preliminary”.

Speaking at a Saturday press conference, al-Allawi said “There must be a strong government, capable of taking decisions which serve the Iraqi people, and bring peace and stability to Iraq.”

On coalition talks, he said, “There have been some talks, but they were only talks. Now, the negotiations begin.”

Allawi vowed, after the results were announced Friday, to “work with all sides” to form a government.

He has confirmed previous talks with the Iraqi National Alliance and Kurdistania, which came third and fourth in the election with 70 and 43 seats respectively.

Al-Maliki previously called for a nationwide recount of votes, alleging irregularities in the counting process.

The United Nations representative to Iraq, Ad Melkert, however, has called the electoral process “credible” and a “success,” urging the candidates to accept the results.

All parties have three days to submit complaints, which will be investigated by the election commission. Iraq’s Supreme Court is expected to certify the results within two weeks.

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