(Sydney, Australia-AP) Oct. 9, 2004 - Australian Prime Minister John Howard has claimed victory in national elections. The vote will ensure the country keeps its troops in Iraq.
The opposition Labor Party had vowed to bring the roughly 900 Australian troops deployed in and around Iraq home by Christmas. Howard insisted they will stay until Iraqis ask them to leave.
The election was widely seen internationally as the first referendum for the three leaders who launched the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. Most analysts predicted a tight race, but it appears Howard will increase his majority in parliament.