by Rachel Ogbu
Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts has won the first vote by US Republican party supporters in the bid to select a presidential candidate for this year’s election.
It was a close call; he finished just eight votes ahead of former senator Rick Santorum in the Midwest state of Iowa. Ron Paul came third, while Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann settled into a second tier of candidates.
Rick Perry revealed he was suspending his campaign after finishing fifth.
For the first time voters had a say in the race to face Democratic President Barack Obama in November’s presidential election.
Tuesday’s contest launched months of conventions and primary elections in 50 states, Washington DC and other territories, culminating in the Republican National Convention in August where the party nominee will be formally announced.
After Iowa, the state of New Hampshire holds its primary election on 10 January and Romney has a big lead there. Over the next six months, each US state will vote on the presidential contenders before a final nominee is selected.
Summary of the news from BBC News, 4 January, 2012.