Leading Sunni reaffirmed to alliance with secular Shiites and Kurds

Leading Sunni politician reaffirmed Saturday his party's commitment to forming a coalition in the next parliament and thanked insurgent groups for not carrying out attacks during the election. An election official in Baghdad said it could be 10 days before results are released and called on Iraqis to be patient. Some of the tight security measures in effect for the Dec. 15 elections were eased around the country, a traffic ban was lifted and all borders except the one with Syria were opened. That border was to reopen in coming days, officials said without explaining why it remained closed.

"We want to announce the elections results as soon possible so that the public can rest," Abdul-Hussein Hendawi said. "Getting the final elections results may not happen before 10 more days, maybe more, maybe less." He cautioned that there was no official date for their release because the commission was "taking the needed time to review the complaints. We have already received a number of complaints and we will receive more."

Hendawi said about 200 complaints had been received so far, including numerous reports about violations in some of the 15 polling centers outside Iraq. He refused, however, to say in which countries. He added that there was no figure available for how many of Iraq's 15 million voters turned out, but election officials have said they think that up to 11 million people may have gone to the polls, or about 70 percent of the electorate.

Adnan al-Dulaimi, a former Islamic studies professor who heads a Sunni Arab bloc that is now expected to have power in the 275-seat parliament, also known as the Council of Representatives, said he would even be willing to form a coalition with the governing Shiite United Iraqi Alliance. "This is an important matter and we will do it in order to create a strong coalition in the Council of Representatives that is able to safeguard the rights of Iraqis," he said.

In a joint statement, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and top U.S. commander Gen. George W. Casey Jr. offered congratulations on the successful election and called for unity as the country approaches formation of a new broad-based government. "All reports indicate that Iraqis from all communities and regions turned out in large numbers with only limited reports of violence and irregularities. This is a signal that the people of Iraq have chosen to become active participants in their country's future ," the statement said.

They said the United States was waiting for the vote count and the "announcement of results as soon as possible. We ask everyone to be patient and to allow the election commission to do its vital work without undue pressure or interference", reports the AP. N.U.

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