Iraq election: Shia rivals of PM Abadi 'make gains'

Iraq election: Shia rivals of PM Abadi 'make gains'

Populist Shia cleric Sayyid Moqtada Sadr on Tuesday eyed a broad coalition after a shock election triumph that has upended Iraqi politics.

Iraq's national elections commission says Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi has taken the largest share of votes in the province that includes the formerly Islamic State-held city of Mosul.

The votes in the Kurdish provinces of Dohuk and Kirkuk are still to be counted, but their results will not affect al-Sadr's victory. The results there, which may be delayed due to tensions between local parties, will not affect Sadr's standing.

Unlike Abadi, a rare ally of both the United States and Iran, Sadr is an opponent of both of the countries which have wielded influence in Iraq since a US-led invasion toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein and ushered the Shia majority to power. Incumbent Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi's coalition, initially predicted to win re-election, trails in third.

Mr. Sadr, who once called for attacks on American forces, capitalized on this widespread discontent by rebranding himself in recent years as a champion of the poor, a firebrand against corruption and a patriot who rails against outside interference by Iran as well as America. But Sadr will not become prime minister because he did not run in the election.

Under article 76 of Iraq's constitution, the right to form a government falls to the political bloc with the most seats.

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MacCallum added that Trump's top military officials, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford Jr. both seek to continue to work with the Iraqi government in a constructive way.

Voter turnout was at a low 44 percent, 15 percent lower than the turnout in the 2014 parliamentary elections. It included full returns from only 10 of the country's 19 provinces, including the provinces of Baghdad and Basra.

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.

He was followed by Amiri with more than 1.2 million votes, translating into around 47 seats, and Abadi with more than 1 million votes and about 42 seats.

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

A similar fate could befall Sadr.

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