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Iraqi politicians are already meeting to talk about the shape of their permanent government. Within a few days, Iraqi election officials say they may announce final results of this month's voting. For now, they're defending themselves against allegations of fraud and they have the support of the United Nations, as NPR's Jamie Tarabay reports.
JAMIE TARABAY reporting:
UN official Craig Jenness told waiting reporters the same thing election officials have been saying for nearly two weeks, that despite the allegations of fraud, the elections were mostly free and fair and won't be run again.
Mr. CRAIG JENNESS (United Nations Official): These were good elections both inside and outside of the country. However, as there are many more candidates than there are seats in parliament, it is natural that some candidates will not be fully satisfied with the results. However, in our view, all communities of Iraq have won in these elections. All will have a strong voice in parliament.
TARABAY: Even as the election officials spoke, Kurdish and Shiite leaders were in the north of Iraq discussing the likely makeup of the next government. The two groups who won most of the seats in the previous provisional government expect to nominate from within their own ranks most members of the new government. Shiite leaders have already said the prime minister must come from their alliance. The main candidates are current interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Al-Jafari and deputy Prime Minister Azla Dimadi(ph). The Shiite alliance says it is talking to some Sunni leaders about their likely role in the next government, but it is not engaging with others. They claim Sunni members of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's slate belonged to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, and they're banned from assuming senior positions in the new Iraqi government.
The politicians continue their back-room dealings against a backdrop of continued violence throughout the country. In Baghdad early this morning, a suicide bomber approached a police station outside an Interior Ministry building and blew himself up. He killed at least four policemen and wounded five others. In the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi in Anbar province, US and Iraqi troops have been conducting operations for the past two days. The US military says five insurgents, including a senior leader, have been detained and four others are being investigated. Sunni politicians have complained about the operations in Sunni-dominated areas. They continually charge the present Shiite-dominated government of deliberately targeting Sunnis. Jamie Tarabay, NPR News, Baghdad.