wnol.info May 23 2018

Sadr leads in Iraq's initial election results

May 23 2018, 01:28 | Irvin Gilbert

Moktada al-Sadr Leads In Iraqi Election Count

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

Security and commission sources had earlier said Abadi was leading the election, which was held on Saturday and is the first since the defeat of Islamic State in the country.

Abadi, a rare ally of both the United States and Iran, came in third in six provinces but ran fifth in Baghdad.

Members of the national election commission read out vote tallies for each candidate list in each of the 10 provinces on national TV. After 10 provinces were read out, Sadr's list had the highest popular vote.

Official results are expected to be announced by the end of Monday, 48 hours after polling stations around the country closed. Winning the largest number of seats does not automatically guarantee that, however.

The commission did not announce how many seats each bloc had gained and said it would do so on Monday after announcing the results from the remaining provinces.

The preliminary results are a setback for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi who, despite entering the election as the apparent frontrunner, appeared to be running third.

The prime minister post is reserved for a Shi'a, the parliamentary speaker is Sunni, and the ceremonial presidency has gone to a Kurd.

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Al-Sadr's supporters jubilant: After the announcement that Muqtada al-Sadr's movement Marching Towards Reform was leading the polls in Baghdad, supporters took to the streets in the capital to celebrate a win.

The militia was disbanded in 2008 and replaced by his Peace Brigades, which helped push back Islamic State (IS) militant forces from areas near Baghdad in 2014 along with Iraqi government troops. Sadr's father, highly respected Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadeq al-Sadr, was murdered in 1999 for defying Saddam Hussein.

Meanwhile, Amiri spent more than two decades fighting Saddam from exile in Iran, and speaks fluent Farsi. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a moderate Shiite Muslim with tacit support from the USA, ran against a host of opponents, including Iran-backed former.

Amiri hopes to capitalize on his battlefield successes.

Fatah's strong result will be seen as a victory for Iran as it seeks to protect its interests in the Iraq, including the militias it finances and has sometimes directed to fight alongside its forces in Syria.

Iraqi President Fuad Masum, center, casts his vote in the country's parliamentary elections in the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, May 12, 2018. Some 22.5 million people were eligible to vote.

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