Iraq rivals jostle for power after Sadr's shock win

Pauline Gross
May 16, 2018

Iraqi firebrand political figure Muqtada al-Sadr is set to be announced the surprise victor of the country's elections and prepared for his new status as government titan by making a call for national unity.

Widespread disillusionment with Iraq's current political class appears to have helped influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr become the early front-runner in national elections marked by record low turnout.

But even then, his bloc might not necessarily form the next government. Corruption has been at the top of Sadr's agenda for several years.

On Tuesday, the prime minister called Sadr to congratulate him for the election victory, the cleric's office said.

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Only 44.52 percent of about 24 million people eligible to vote participated in the consultation, a decrease of 15 percentage points, compared to 2014.

Sadr's tweet excluded mention of Former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law Coalition, al-Fatih led by Shia militia leader Hadi al-Amiri, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), all known for having close ties to Iran. The commission gave no indication on when further results would be announced.

Counting is still ongoing but Sadr's coalition - which is dominated by the Sadrist Movement and the Iraqi Communist Party - is believed to have won at least 54 of the 329-seat parliament, making it the largest political forces in the country, according to Al Jazeera. Despite a third place finish, Abadi could potentially still remain prime minister after the government coalition is formed.

The remaining uncounted ballots, mostly from Iraqis overseas, the security services, and internally displaced people voting in camps and elsewhere, might change the final seat tallies but only marginally.

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