Moqtada al-Sadr alliance takes lead in Iraqi elections

Leroy Wright
May 14, 2018

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

A Sadr victory or second-place finish would mark a surprise comeback by the cleric, who has a zealous following among the young, poor and dispossessed but has been sidelined by influential Iranian-backed figures such as Amiri. However, Sadr's bloc won significantly more votes in the capital, Baghdad, which has the highest number of seats.

The latest on Iraq's national elections.

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

The statement gave no further details, but said more information about the result of the airstrike will be released later.

Haider al-Abadi was holding an early lead in Iraq's elections last night, according to unconfirmed figures before a final result today. Al-Sadr campaigned on an anti-corruption platform and formed an unlikely alliance with communists and other independent secular supporters.

Amiri leads the Badr Organization, which was the backbone of the volunteer forces that helped to defeat IS along with Iraqi government troops and USA -backed Western coalition forces.

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Both Sadr's bloc and the bloc loyal to Hadi al-Amiri, the head of the Badr Brigade, are the top two right now, with Abadi's state of law in third.

Numerous candidates on Fatah were militia commanders before they cut their official ties with the force in order to seek office. Victory for Amiri would be seen as a big a win for Iran, which has sought to increase its influence in Iraq and the wider region.

Sadr portrays himself as an Iraqi nationalist and a year ago met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia who is staunchly opposed to Iran.

The elections held Saturday were the first since Iraq declared victory over Islamic State fighters and the fourth since the 2003 USA -led toppling of Saddam Hussein.

Polling station officials blamed the low turnout on a combination of tight security measures, voter apathy and irregularities linked to a new electronic voting system.

The results unexpectedly showed former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who was touted as a serious challenger to Abadi, lagging behind. Negotiations on forming a coalition are expected. He had no powerful political machine of his own when he took office. Since the first elections following the 2003 USA -led toppling of Saddam Hussein, the Shiite majority has held the position of prime minister, while the Kurds have held the presidency and the Sunnis have held the post of parliament speaker.

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