Iraqi Shiites Fall Short Of Two-Thirds Vote Majority

Iraq’s Shiites likely will have to form a coalition in the 275-member National Assembly with the other top vote-getters – the Kurds and candidates backed by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

In final vote totals released Sunday, Shiites came up short of the two-thirds majority they needed to form a government on their own.

The vote was largely boycotted by the Sunni Arab minority.

Only two percent of voters went to polls in violence-torn Anbar province, where they cast roughly 13,800 votes.

President Bush is congratulating the candidates elected to the country's new National Assembly.

He's also praising the Iraqi people for defying terrorist threats and going to the polls.

Mr. Bush also said the U.S. and the coalition can take pride in making the elections possible.

The State Department is calling the election "a positive and significant accomplishment." It's advising candidates who didn't win to remain involved in the political process.