May 27, 2018

Iraq election: Shia rivals of PM Abadi 'make gains'

16 May 2018, 12:40 | Simon Arnold

Moqtada Al Sadr shows his ink-stained finger after casting his vote. Alaa al Marjani  Reuters

Moqtada Al Sadr shows his ink-stained finger after casting his vote. Alaa al Marjani  Reuters

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

O'Neill warned that such a situation could be tenuous if America's former "enemy number one" is able to choose the next prime minister.

With official results from Saturday's election still pending, al-Sadr's Marching Toward Reform alliance is leading in almost all regions.

However, Sadr's coalition looks unlikely to win enough seats to form a government in its own right, and is likely to begin talks with other candidates to name a new prime minister.

Populist Shiite religious scholar Moqtada Sadr Tuesday eyed a governing coalition after dealing a blow to both Iranian and US influence with a shock election triumph that upended Iraqi politics.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said Washington was aware of the charges. "Sayyid Muqtada loves the nation, and so do I".

The election came as the country deals with the disenfranchisement of the country's Sunni minority.

But after 14 years, more than $1 trillion, millions of Iraqi dead and thousands of USA troops killed and maimed, the US now has less influence over Iraq than it had while former Central Intelligence Agency operative Saddam Hussein was in power.

Also at issue is how to integrate the country's vast and predominantly Shiite militia structure into the security forces.

Al-Amiri maintains close ties to Iran. His former Mahdi Army fought American forces for years.

But more importantly, "Al-Sadr is an interesting character because he has very, very hard relations with the USA but increasingly hard relationships with the Iranians as well", Croft said.

Reuters could not independently verify the document's authenticity but the results in it for the 16 announced provinces were in line with those announced by the commission.

The votes in the Kurdish provinces of Dohuk and Kirkuk are still to be counted, but their results will not affect al-Sadr's victory.

Al-Abadi directed Iraqi forces to retake the city late previous year after the Kurdish regional administration organized a referendum on independence that controversially included Kirkuk; federal forces moved in with little bloodshed as Kurdish forces withdrew.

Members of the election commission read out vote tallies for each candidate list in 10 provinces on national TV.

He was followed by Amiri with more than 1.2 million votes, translating into around 47 seats, and Abadi with more than 1 million votes and about 42 seats.

Iraqi Shiite cleric and leader Moqtada al-Sadr puts his ballot through an electronic counting machine into a ballot box at poll station in the central holy city of Najaf. Since he did not run for a seat, he will not be eligible for the role.

Political power in Iraq is traditionally divided along sectarian lines among the offices of prime minister, president and parliament speaker.

An Iraqi woman shows her ink-stained index finger before a national flag after having cast her vote in the parliamentary election, in the capital Baghdad's Karrada district.

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