Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's main rival Iyad Allawi inched ahead of the incumbent in the nationwide vote tally, updated results from Iraq's general election showed today.
Allawi's Iraqiya bloc led Maliki's State of Law Alliance by 7,928 votes, according to new figures released by Iraq's election commission and based on 92 per cent of ballots counted.
Overall, Iraqiya garnered 2,543,632 votes compared with State of Law's 2,535,704. The Iraqi National Alliance, a coalition led by Shiite religious groups, was third with 1,915,654.
The nationwide vote count is an indication of the tight race between the two biggest rivals, but it was not immediately clear how their tallies would affect the number of seats they win in parliament.
Iraq's proportional representation system makes it unlikely for any single group to clinch the 163 seats required to form a government on its own.
Complete election results are expected in the coming days. Final results - after all complaints have been investigated and ruled upon - are likely by the end of the month.