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Moqtada al-Sadr poised for victory in Iraqi election

16 May 2018

Populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a long-time adversary of the United States, has all but won Iraq's parliamentary election, the electoral commission said, in a surprise turn of fortune for the Shiite leader. The alliance is headed by Hadi al-Amiri, a former minister of transport with close ties to Iran who became a senior commander of paramilitary fighters in the fight against the Islamic State extremist group.

Strengthened by his apparent victory in Saturday's polls, black-turbaned Sadr could now push his nationalist agenda that has seen him pledge to curb foreign meddling in Iraq. The government should be formed within 90 days of the official results.

The surprising upset in elections this weekend by Mr. Sadr's unlikely alliance of communists, Sunni businessmen and pious community activists comes amid long-simmering anger at the established politicians who have controlled government since Iraq's first democratic election in 2005 after the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein.

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

Since he did not run for a seat, he will not be eligible for the role.

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Suleimani has reportedly called for a union between Abadi's bloc, the Conquest Alliance of former anti-Daesh commander Ameri and former premier Nouri al-Maliki.

Nineveh is Iraq's second largest province after Baghdad, which went to a list organized by the influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

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

Sadr made a witty suggestion on Twitter as to who might be included in a future ruling coalition.

Moqtada al-Sadr poised for victory in Iraqi election