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Fiery cleric Sadr on course to win Iraq election

Fiery cleric Sadr on course to win Iraq election

The parliamentary elections on Saturday serve as the first national referendum since the defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) in 2017.

According to Iraq's official election commission, some 10.8 million Iraqis - out of 24 million eligible voters - took part in the vote, representing a turnout of 44.5 percent.

Mr. Abadi, a rare ally of both the USA and Iran, is mainly concerned with fending off Shia groups other than Mr. Sadr's alliance, which are seeking to pull the country closer to Tehran.

The elections commission has announced results from 16 of Iraq's 19 provinces.

Al-Sadr did not run for a seat in parliament and can not become prime minister.

During the election campaign, frustrated Iraqis of all shades complained about their political elites systematic patronage, bad governance and corruption, saying they didn't receive any benefits of their country's oil wealth.

Increasingly, however, it is Sadr's relationship with Tehran that has come to define his political identity.

The winners not only scramble the pyramid of power in Iraq but also raise the possibility of a government with radically new priorities. Authorities are seeking as much as $88 billion for postwar reconstruction. His fathers cousin, Mohammed Baqir, was killed by Saddam in 1980.

His supporters celebrated in Baghdad.

Widespread disillusionment with Iraq's current political class appeared to have boosted Mr Al Sadr's coalition. If it can summon the focus and diplomatic resources. there's an opportunity to reinforce the incipient shift toward nonsectarian politics built around support for Iraqi sovereignty - including from Iran.

The vote came with tensions surging between the United States and Iran after Washington's withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, sparking fears of a destabilising power struggle over Iraq.

Abadi was seen by some Iraqis as lacking charisma and ineffective.

Hadi al-Amiri is the head of one of Iraq's most powerful Shia paramilitary groups backed by Tehran, whose forces ended up battling alongside the U.S. to oust Daesh militants. While former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law Alliance hopes to garner enough votes to affect the post-election coalition calculus.One common theme among the coalition blocs is the attempt to portray their blocs as cross-sectarian.

As news spread of Sadr's gains in the election, some of his followers celebrated in Baghdad and chanted "Iran out".

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