Iraq election thrown wide open as outsider alliances show strength

A man walks past a campaign poster of Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al Abadi ahead of the parliamentary election in Najaf

He was viewed as a frontrunner before the election. However, it appears he will not win.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi´s list appears to be leading in Iraq´s parliamentary election, followed by influential Shi´ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr´s alliance, an election commission source and a security official told Reuters on Sunday.

The two front-runners - Sadr and Amiri both came in first in four of the 10 provinces counted so far, but Sadr's bloc won significantly more votes in the capital Baghdad, which has the highest number of parliamentary seats. Ex-Prime Miniser Nuri al-Maliki, a close ally of Iran like Amiri, came in fourth with 25 seats.

The results are expected by the end of Monday, but coalition negotiations are expected to drag on for months as no single party is likely to win enough seats to hold a majority.

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.

"We are joyous", said Jaafar Abdeljaleed, 28, who added that his father was killed fighting USA -led forces in 2003. I remember thinking that if Sadr survived, he would one day become an huge force in Iraqi politics - possibly for better, more likely for worse. Almost 2,600 women ran for office this year. However, he is the power behind the Sairoon coalition.

If the Sadr list finished second, that would mark a surprise comeback by the cleric. According to the Post, Sadr formed a cross-sectarian, non-Islamist electoral coalition that pushed an anti-corruption message.

Al-Sadr commanded fighters in the war against the IS group and headed a powerful militia that fought USA forces in Iraq prior to 2011, but his 2018 campaign focused on social issues and eliminating government corruption. The Arab and Turkmen political parties in Kirkuk have given an independent commission in charge of the election 24 hours to start a manual recount, local politician Ershad Salihi, the head of the Iraqi Turkmen Front, said.

The 44-year-old derives much of authority from his family, inheriting millions of followers from his father, a revered grand ayatollah killed by the regime of former strongman Saddam Hussein. That's considerably less than the 63 percent turnout of 2014 and 2010.

"Everyone is concerned, we just don't know what to expect", said a Western diplomat who asked to remain anonymous to discuss Iraqi politics.

On Apr. 19, Iraqi warplanes carried out a number of airstrikes against terrorist positions in Syria's eastern Deir ez-Zor province.

Baghdad has good relations with Iran and Russian Federation, the Syrian Regime's main backers in the seven-year-old Syrian civil war, while also enjoying strong support from the coalition.

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