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16 May 2018, 12:39 | Katrina Lee
Moqtada al-Sadr poised for victory in Iraqi election
With 16 of 18 provinces counted, Sadr's Marching In the direction of Reform alliance, which incorporates Iraq' communists, was forward in six and second in 4 areas.
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.
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. Former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a close ally of Iran like Amiri, came in fourth with around 25 seats.
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.
The Reformist Shargh newspaper wrote that the surprising results of the Iraqi elections may signal a greater Saudi influence in Baghdad.
It may be Abadi, Reuters reports, who has signaled a willingness to work with Sadr to form a working government.
An alliance of candidates linked to Iraq's powerful Shiite paramilitary groups was in second.
Sadr's bloc did not run in the remaining two provinces, Kurdish Dohuk and the ethnically mixed oil province of Kirkuk.
The electoral commission released results from 10 of 19 provinces Sunday night, including tallies from Baghdad and Basra provinces. By the end of the announcement, al-Sadr's list had the highest popular vote, followed by al-Amiri's. The results have come as a shock to the Americans, who were convinced that the incumbent prime minister would gain enough seats to create a coalition with the moderate parties and thereby form a new government.
Celebrations erupted in Baghdad's Sadr City, an impoverished quarter that is home to some 3 million people and is named after the cleric's late father, Ayatollah Mohammad Sadq al-Sadr.
Disparagement of electronic voting devices, used at Iraqi polling stations for the first time on Saturday, has become a common rallying cry to candidates and members of parties that got few votes in a country where there was already little faith in the national electoral system.
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