Shiite, secular blocs pick up provinces in Iraq

BAGHDAD: A secular bloc led by former Iraqi prime minister Ayad Allawi and a Shiite religious bloc both appeared to pick up votes as new results were released in Iraq's election.

But the gains for the secular Iraqiya and the Shiite Iraqi National Alliance did not appear to be enough to overtake Nouri al-Maliki. The Shiite prime minister's group continues to lead in the vote count from last Sunday's parliamentary vote.

With about 15 percent of the votes counted in the northern Ninevah province, Iraqiya was leading with 62,000 votes.

In Qadisiyah province in the southern Shiite heartland, the Iraqi National Alliance, was ahead with a little over 2,000 votes.

The prime minister's coalition is ahead in five of 11 provinces that have released partial results.