Iraqis defied bomb and mortar attacks that killed 38 people Sunday to vote in parliamentary elections considered a test of the country's democracy.
The polls have closed, and vote counting has begun, but the United Nations says early results will not be available for days.
Iraq's Shi'ite prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, faces tough competition in the race from former Shi'ite allies, as well as Sunni and Kurdish politicians. No party is expected to win an outright victory, so the new government likely will be a coalition. Whoever leads the new government will oversee the withdrawal of U.S. troops, scheduled to be completed by the end of next year.
U.S. President Barack Obama congratulated the Iraqi people Sunday for voting despite the acts of violence.