Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Iraq PM Congratulates Sadr on Election Win, Suggests Need for Recount

Iraq PM Congratulates Sadr on Election Win, Suggests Need for Recount

Iraq's electoral commission says a coalition led by Shia leader Muqtada al Sadr has won the election, with 91 percent of the ballots counted.

Unlike Abadi, a rare ally of both the United States and Iran, Sadr is an opponent of both countries, which have wielded influence in Iraq since a US -led invasion toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003 and thrust the Shiite majority into power.

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

Moreover, Qasem Mohebali, former director-general of political affairs of the Middle East in Iran's Foreign Ministry, told the moderate Entekhab news site on May 15, "Perhaps the reason for [Sairoon] Alliance's attraction for the Iraqi people was Muqtada al-Sadr's nationalist slogans like 'Arab Iraq.' On the other hand, the corruption of the previous governments was also impactful in turning people away [from the other groups]".

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

Rivals called to congratulate him on the victory, his office said, after Iraqis went to the poll Saturday for the country's first election since the defeat of the Islamic State group. But Sadr will not become prime minister because he did not run in the election.

Moqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite activist cleric, was known by the military during the Bush administration as "enemy number one" because he and his coalition killed hundreds of American and allied soldiers. The government should be formed within 90 days of the official results.

Abadi - who came to power in 2014 as IS rampaged across Iraq - has balanced off the U.S. and Iran during his time at the helm.

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. It included full returns from only 10 of the country's 19 provinces, including the provinces of Baghdad and Basra. Former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a close ally of Iran like Amiri, came in fourth with around 25 seats. Iran has publicly stated it will not allow his bloc to govern.

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