World

Early results in Iraq election favour populist cleric al-Sadr

Early results in Iraq election favour populist cleric al-Sadr

Influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Monday revealed potential political allies needed to form a new government following Saturday's as-of-yet inconclusive elections.

An alliance headed by nationalist cleric Moqtada Sadr and a rival bloc of pro-Iranian former fighters appeared to surge yesterday in surprise preliminary results from Iraq's first poll since the defeat of the Islamic State (IS) group.

Unlike current Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a rare ally of both the United States and Iran, Sadr is an opponent of both countries, both wielding influence in Iraq since a US-led invasion toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003 thrust the Shia majority into power.

Al-Sadr block struck an alliance with the communist party and some civil Iraqi movements who joined forces in the last few years to protest corruption and lack of security in Iraq.

In the 2010 election, Vice President Ayad Allawi's group won the largest number of seats, albeit with a narrow margin, but he was prevented from becoming prime minister.




Voter turnout was at a low 44 percent, 15 percent lower than the turnout in the 2014 parliamentary elections.

Sadr has led two uprisings against USA forces in Iraq and is one of the few Shiite leaders to distance himself from Iran.

"We are ready to work and cooperate in forming the strongest government for Iraq, free of corruption", Abadi said in a live televised address.

Iraqi firebrand political figure Muqtada al-Sadr is set to be announced the surprise victor of the country's elections and prepared for his new status as government titan by making a call for national unity. US -backed Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi tallied just over 1 million votes and will control 42 seats, and former USA puppet Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki - who turned on the US and cozied up to Iran - placed fourth and holds about 25 seats.

Recounts following disputes in the Dohuk and Kirkuk provinces have delayed any final announcement, but officials said a full tally should be out over the next two days.


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