Iraq: PM's group takes lead in national elections

BAGHDAD (AP) — A coalition led by Iraq's Shiite prime minister has emerged as the biggest winner in parliamentary elections, paving the way for him to try to form the country's next government.

The results for the first parliamentary election since the U.S. military withdrawal in 2011 were released Monday by the Independent High Electoral Commission.

They show that Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law bloc gained 92 seats in the 328-member parliament.

A list loyal to Shiite firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr came second with 28 seats, followed by powerful Shiite cleric, Ammar al-Hakim's list with 29 seats.

State of Law was not expected to command a majority outright. Al-Maliki must now reach out to other blocs to try to cobble together a ruling coalition. That process could take months.