Early results in Iraq election favor populist cleric al-Sadr

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

Al-Sadr did not run for a seat in parliament and can not become prime minister.

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

Remembered for leading an insurgency against USA forces and inciting sectarian bloodshed against the Sunni population, al-Sadr has in recent years sought to recast himself as a populist, railing against corruption and failing services and striking a political alliance with Iraq's secularists and Communist Party. Today, he's rebranded himself as a populist outsider who will fight corruption and Iran's interference 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.

Moqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite activist cleric, was known by the military during the Bush administration as "enemy number one" because he and his coalition killed hundreds of American and allied soldiers. More than 2 million people are displaced by war, majority Sunnis.

Within the cleric's impoverished Sadr Metropolis neighbourhood in Baghdad residents mentioned they have been hoping for enhancements after the elections.


An alliance of candidates linked to Iraq's powerful Shiite paramilitary groups was in second.

The elections commission has announced results from 16 of Iraq's 19 provinces.

An official on the US State Division remained coy forward of the definitive tally, telling AFP "we're awaiting the announcement of the official outcomes and stay up for the formation of the brand new authorities". The Iranian-backed Shi'ite militia chief Hadi al-Amiri came in second with about 1.2 million votes and will control 47 seats.

Seats in parliament will be allocated proportionally to coalitions once all votes are counted.

Meanwhile, conservative Tasnim News Agency reported on May 15 that Sadr is seeking to reach a coalition with Ammar al-Hakim's Hikma (National Wisdom Movement) and Iyad Allawi's Iraqi National Alliance Coalition to form a "technocrat" government.

The elections on Saturday - hit by record abstentions - saw a clear rejection of the Iraqi elite that has run the country since the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Almost 2,600 women ran for office this year.

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