World News

Anti-US cleric takes lead in Iraq election

Anti-US cleric takes lead in Iraq election

However, given Iraq's patchy record - since the downfall of Saddam Hussein and numerous electoral polls that followed - reconciliation across Iraq's fragmented and animosity filled landscape is as hard as ever. The coalition has pushed an anti-corruption and anti-sectarian campaign.

Iraqi election results are showing a surprising setback for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, with a political list backed by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr making a stronger showing.

Mr Sadr himself rebranded as a secular nationalist, campaigning against corruption and for reform, a message which seemed to resonate with Iraqis exhausted of entrenched sectarianism and graft.

Sadr has always been viewed by the US and Iraqi government officials seen as an unpredictable maverick.

Sadr has reinvented himself as an anti-graft crusader after rising to prominence as a powerful militia chief whose fighters battled United States troops after the 2003 invasion.

Whoever wins the election will have to contend with the fallout from US President Donald Trump's decision to quit Iran's nuclear deal, a move Iraqis fear could turn their country into a theater of conflict between Washington and Tehran.

While Iraqis have celebrated the routing of Islamic State fighters from major cities in the country's north, they are also frustrated by the limited change they've seen in their daily lives.

Seats in parliament will be allocated proportionately to coalitions once all votes are counted. This opens the doors for various other blocs with a significant number of seats to align with Abadi and seek significant concessions in the process.

Sadr used his considerable power to mobilize hundreds of thousands of people to an ongoing popular protest movement calling for political overhauls. Many chanted "Iran out". Abadi could be out of a job if Sadr, reportedly closer to Saudi Arabia than Iran, allies himself with Iranian proxies, such as Hadi al-Amiri. Prime Minister Hayder Abadi's faction may be a possibility, as Sadr has said it's possible they could form a government together.

Sadr has reinvented himself as an anti-graft crusader after rising to prominence as a powerful militia chief whose group waged a bloody insurgency against U.S. forces after the 2003 invasion. Victory bloc, for example, fielded candidates in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and Sunni areas for the first time. Participated in the elections 6990 candidates from 87 parties.

More than two million people remain internally displaced across the country and IS - while weakened - still has the capability to launch deadly attacks.

Abadi placed first in Iraq's second largest province, Nineveh, but he performed poorly in the rest of the country, coming in third and fourth place in most provinces, and fifth in Baghdad.

Unofficial preliminary results showed the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) making gains in predominately Arab and Turkman areas.

The complex electoral arithmetic of the Iraqi system means that the final makeup of the parliament is still far from decided.

Amiri's Badr organisation played a key role in the battle against Islamic State.

In summary, the Iraqi elections were tense, contentious and fragmented as ever. Horse-trading likely before a premier and a coalition government is installed.


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