What next for Iraq as cleric Sadr heads for election win?

  • What next for Iraq as cleric Sadr heads for election win?

What next for Iraq as cleric Sadr heads for election win?

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

The political coalition of influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr took an early lead in Iraq's national elections in partial returns announced late Sunday by the Iraqi electoral commission.

A political outlier before Saturday's ballot, Sadr is best known for leading the "fearsome" Mehdi Army in two insurgencies against U.S. troops in Iraq, following the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Sadr will not become prime minister, as he wasn't on the ballot, but a victory would allow him to appoint someone to the post.

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

Seats in parliament will be allocated proportionately to coalitions once all votes are counted.

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. By the end of the announcement, al-Sadr's list had the highest popular vote, followed by al-Amiri's.

Will not enter the coalition and the movement "For the rule of law", headed by former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

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 other winning blocks, though, will have to approve his nomination.

In a 2010 election, Vice President Ayad Allawi's group won the largest number of seats, albeit with a narrow margin, but he was blocked from becoming premier for which he blamed Tehran.

Political sources told AFP that two meetings have been held under Iranian guidance to bring together several political blocs.