Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki won the largest share of Iraqi parliamentary seats in last month’s national elections, according to preliminary results released on Monday.
The results dealt a blow to rivals seeking to prevent him serving a third term.
Maliki won at least 93 seats, far more than his two main Shia rivals, the movement of Muqtada Sadr and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, who won a combined 57 seats, according Iraq’s electoral commission.
The tallies from the April 30 general election had been delayed for weeks due to a litany of complaints according to the electoral commission.
Leaked reports released by political parties and reported by Iraqi media throughout the vote counting process had said Maliki’s State of Law alliance would win around 90 out of 328 seats in parliament.
The government formation process is expected to take months as the various parties are likely to seek an all-encompassing government package, including the selection of the president and the speaker of parliament.
Under a de facto agreement between Iraq’s communities, the prime minister is a Shia Arab, the president a Kurd and the parliament speaker a Sunni Arab.
The election and its aftermath come amid a year-long surge in violence that has left more than 3,500 people dead this year, fueling fears Iraq could be slipping back into the all-out conflict that left tens of thousands dead in 2006 and 2007.
The run-up to the vote was plagued by attacks on candidates and campaign rallies, and allegations of malpractice that contributed to lower turnout in areas of the country populated by disgruntled minority Sunnis.
But it has nevertheless been hailed largely as a success by the international community, with the US and UN praising Iraqi voters for standing up to militancy.