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Muqtada al-Sadr Alliance Wins Elections in Iraq

Muqtada al-Sadr Alliance Wins Elections in Iraq”

With votes coming in from 16 of Iraq's 18 provinces, Sairoon - an alliance between the Sadrist Movement and Iraq's Communist Party - won more than 1.3 million votes and 54 of 329 parliament seats.

Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is facing a shock defeat in the country's first election since declaring victory over Islamic State in December.

Remembered for leading an insurgency against US 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.

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.

"The recent proximity of Muqtada al-Sadr to Saudi Arabia has led the Sairoon Alliance to be partly considered as a group backed by the Saudis and ... to some extent means greater influence of Saudi Arabia [in Iraq] compared to its regional rivals", wrote Shargh on May 15, adding, "Sadr's supporters are opposed to Iranian influence and are vehemently anti-American".

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.

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The result of the election was a ruthless setback.

Voter turnout was 44.52 per cent with 92 per cent of votes counted, the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) said on Sunday. Despite a third place finish, Abadi could potentially still remain prime minister after the government coalition is formed. Kirkuk's governor Rakan al-Jubouri has also called for a manual recount of votes, a call supported by Turkmen in the province as well.

The electoral commission said it would release the remainder of the results on Tuesday. By the end of the announcement, al-Sadr's list had the highest popular vote, followed by al-Amiri's.

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.

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. Almost 2,600 women ran for office this year.



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