Cleric, paramilitary leader surge at Iraq elections

NAJAF Employees of the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission inspect ballot boxes at a warehouse on Tuesday.—Reuters
NAJAF Employees of the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission inspect ballot boxes at a warehouse on Tuesday.—Reuters
Author

16 May, 2018

Sadr's gains have called into question the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq, where more than 5,000 troops are indefinitely deployed to prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State group.

Sadr is an Iraqi nationalist who opposes both the US and Iran meddling in Iraqi affairs.

"Given the unexpected results that Nasr achieved, the chance of Abadi becoming the [next] prime minister has decreased, especially since the [coalition] under his leadership came in fifth in Baghdad", argued Tasnim.

Nationalist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Sairoon Coalition achieved an upset victory, in what has been described as a repudiation of both USA and Iranian influence in Iraq. More than 2 million people are displaced by war, majority Sunnis.

A document provided to Reuters by a candidate in Baghdad that was also circulating among journalists and analysts showed results from all 18 provinces. It will be clear in the next a few days whether his alliance can convince other Iraqi blocs to jointly form a government or whether it is possible that the regional powers will intervene once again and support their proxies to lead Iraq for another four years.

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Washington's preferred candidate, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, has been knocked into third place.

In the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, tensions peaked when the city governor, Rakan Al Jubouri, and the head of the Turkmen Front, Arshad Al Salehi, demanding a manual recount of the votes and reiterating the issues with the electronic polling machines.

The electoral commission released results from 10 of 19 provinces Sunday night, including tallies from Baghdad and Basra provinces. The results have come as a shock to the Americans, who were convinced that the incumbent prime minister would gain enough seats to create a coalition with the moderate parties and thereby form a new government. By the end of the announcement, al-Sadr's list had the highest popular vote, followed by al-Amiri's.

Counting is still ongoing but Sadr's coalition - which is dominated by the Sadrist Movement and the Iraqi Communist Party - is believed to have won at least 54 of the 329-seat parliament, making it the largest political forces in the country, according to Al Jazeera.

It is the only province so far to give a plurality of votes to al-Abadi, who has performed poorly in this year's parliamentary elections.


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