Baghdad: Basra's bid to become an autonomous region, fell short of the 10 per cent of votes required according to the Independent Electoral Commission.

This failure will most likely lead to further division and quarrelling between political parties vested in the region. Among those opposed to Basra's autonomy bid were Shiite parties affiliated with Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, Abdul Aziz Al Hakim, and Moqtada Al Sadr.

The Baathists also opposed the bid.

"Conflicting parties worked together for a common goal, which was to abort the Basra autonomy bid. This happened through voter intimidation, but we will reassert our bid for autonomy next year," Basim Al Musawi, member of the Basra Governorate Council told Gulf News. Only 5 per cent of the votes counted favoured autonomy.

"It is ironic that the Baath party and Al Maliki's Dawa Party as well as the Islamic Supreme Council, worked together to obstruct the vote counting," Zahra Al Saadoun, a political researcher in Basra told Gulf News.

The failure of Basra's bid, scores a major political victory for the Shiite Alliance under Abdul Aziz Al Hakim, who has long rejected the project due to his vision for an expanded federal project to include nine Shiite provinces in the southern and central Iraq.

"The Basra failure is a blow to those who are in favour of the division of Iraq. Iraqis want Iraq to remain one country, and this can be seen through the cooperation of Sunnis and Shiites to prevent its division." Khamis Al Alwan, a resident of Basra explained.