Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki won landslide victories over Shia rivals in provincial elections, reflecting a seismic shift in the political landscape, preliminary results issued on Thursday showed.
Results showed big wins for the prime minister’s State of Law coalition in the capital Baghdad and the second largest city Basra, giving him and his party a major boost before national elections at the end of the year.
Maliki’s allies also scored smaller but substantial victories in eight of nine other Shia provinces in the south.
Saturday’s provincial election was the most peaceful in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, hailed as a sign of progress by Washington as it plans a gradual withdrawal of its 140,000 troops. In Iraq’s most violent province, Nineveh in the north, Sunni Arab parties won most votes.
15 killed in suicide attack
Fifteen people were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a restaurant in Iraq’s northeastern Diyala province.