Firebrand Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Course to Win Iraq Election

  • Firebrand Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Course to Win Iraq Election

Firebrand Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Course to Win Iraq Election

Iraqi Prime Minister and head of the al-Nasr Coalition Haider al-Abadi has expressed his willingness to work and cooperate in forming a stable government free of corruption.

People in Iraq voted Saturday in the first parliamentary elections since the country declared victory over ISIS terrorist group.

The electoral commission of Iraq announced that 44.5 percent of those eligible had cast their ballots in the elections.

Sadr, whose forces fought US troops in 2004, appears to be the big victor in Iraq's parliamentary elections, according to media reports.

After the announcement that the Marching Towards Reform was ahead in Baghdad, supporters took the streets in the capital to celebrate a win. As the results stand, al-Sadr's bloc will be able to take a leading role in the political horse-trading to find a compromise candidate.

The Shiite cleric first gained global notice as a young militia leader who fought USA troops after the 2003 invasion.

Al-Sadr commands the devotion of millions of Iraqis who have sent their sons and husbands to fight for his militia from the early days of the USA occupation.

Several parties, including those following Sadr's leadership, have committed themselves to a vision of a non-sectarian and technocratic government.

Abadi was viewed as a frontrunner before the election.

Increasingly, however, it is Sadr's relationship with Tehran that has come to define his political identity.

The vote came just days after US President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal. In 2010's election, vice-president Ayad Allawi's National Alliance won the largest number of seats but he was blocked from becoming prime minister, which he blamed on interference from Tehran.

Alternatively, these blocs could sideline Abadi altogether if they can muster a coalition of their own with the formula and size to secure power.

Whoever emerges as premier will face the mammoth task of rebuilding a country left shattered by the battle against Islamic State - with donors already pledging $30 billion. He's still calling for the removal of all American forces from Iraq, at a time when even some Shiite leaders close to Iran are saying they want them to remain to continue training Iraqi forces. While his Mahdi army was once regarded as being heavily reliant on Iranian-supplied expertise, Sadr has now positioned himself as an opponent of Iranian influence - at least when his rivals such as Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani are involved.