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Iraqi Vote Winner Says Ready To Negotiate With All Parties

Former Prime MInister Iyad Allawi smiles while speaking to the media in Baghdad on March 27.
The head of the party receiving the most votes in Iraq's parliamentary elections says he wants to negotiate with all parties to form a government.

Former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi says his Iraqiya alliance is "open to talks with all" and says they should start immediately, and expressed hope at achieving a solid government.

"We hope to enthrone this achievement by forming a government as quickly as possible -- a government that is capable of both providing security and appropriate services to its people," Allawi said.

Allawi's statement comes a day after full returns from the March 7 parliamentary elections showed him winning 91 seats in the 325-member parliament, narrowly edging out current Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law bloc, which won 89 seats.

Fresh violence was reported on March 26, as Iraqis were waiting for the election results to be announced. Two bombs struck a crowded market in the town of Khalis in Diyala Province.

Police today said that the death toll had risen to 59, with 73 wounded.

Reuters today quoted a police spokesman as saying that "from the style of the attack and its magnitude, I can say it has Al-Qaeda's fingerprint." He added that an investigation is under way.

compiled from agency reports