Iraq election candidate kidnapped in north Baghdad

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Militants kidnapped a candidate from a small Shiite Muslim political party on Sunday as officials in Iraq prepared to announce the results of last month's general election.

Rahman Abdulzahra al-Jazairi was near his home in the predominantly Shiite neighbourhood of Jamila in north Baghdad when gunmen opened fire, wounding his father and brother and abducting him, police said.

Jazairi is the general secretary of Hezbollah Warithun, an offshoot of the main Hezbollah party in Iraq.

It is not expected to win any seats in parliament following the April 30 vote, results of which are due to be released later Sunday or on Monday, election commission officials say.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the kidnapping, but Jazairi's party said on Facebook that security camera footage had helped identify the militants behind the incident and said security forces were working to secure his release.

Jazairi's kidnap is the first incident of its kind since the election, the run-up to which was plagued by attacks on campaign rallies and candidates, but no reported kidnappings.

The election results have been delayed because of a litany of complaints, according to the election commission.

But Iraq's political parties have nevertheless already begun manoeuvring to build alliances in order to get a head start on forming a government.

Incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is seeking a third term, but faces criticism from opponents who say he has consolidated power and who blame him for a marked deterioration in security.