Iraq rivals jostle for power after Sadr's shock win

Shia leader Muqtada al Sadr early campaigning on Najaf waits to reap fruits of parliamentary elections

Sadr, an opponent to both USA and Iranian influence in Iraq, was followed by Iran-backed Shia militia leader Hadi Al Amiri's coalition.

Sadr has led two uprisings against USA forces in Iraq and is one of the few Shiite leaders to distance himself from Iran. 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. Turnout was only 44.52%, the lowest since the defeat of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003.

The main question for Iraqis, regional powers and Western allies now is who will become the next prime mister and form the government.

Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's coalition was deemed the preliminary victor of the race by the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC). Of more than 2 million Iraqis displaced by the war, the majority are Sunnis.

The Reformist Shargh newspaper wrote that the surprising results of the Iraqi elections may signal a greater Saudi influence in Baghdad.

An electoral alliance of Hashd-linked candidates, headed by militia commander Hadi al-Amiri, is now in second place in the election returns.

Meanwhile, allegations of vote rigging in northern Iraq were delaying final results on Tuesday, with some Kurdish parties demanding a re-run of the weekend's poll.

"So we raise the Bayariq (Banners) of al-Nasr (Victory), and let Baghdad, the capital, be Hawiyatuna (Baghdad Is Our Identity) and for our Hirakuna (Movement) Democratic (possibly KDP) towards the formation of a paternal government from technocratic Kawadur (Cadres) without partisanship".

The electoral commission released results from 10 of 19 provinces Sunday night, including tallies from Baghdad and Basra provinces.

In the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, tensions peaked when the city governor, Rakan Al Jubouri, and the head of the Turkmen Front, Arshad Al Salehi, demanding a manual recount of the votes and reiterating the issues with the electronic polling machines.

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.

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

On May 12, Iraqis cast their votes in the first general election following the overthrow of Islamic State (ISIS). Almost 2,600 women ran for office this year.

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