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Al-Sadr refused to form a coalition with supporters of Iran
16 May 2018, 12:40 | Marta Robbins
Moqtada al-Sadr poised for victory in Iraqi election
In the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, tensions peaked when the city governor, Rakan Al Jubouri, and the head of the Turkmen Front, Arshad Al Salehi, demanding a manual recount of the votes and reiterating the issues with the electronic polling machines.
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]".
Sadr has led two uprisings against US forces in Iraq and is one of the few Shiite leaders to distance himself from Iran. Al-Abadi's Nasr (Victory) Coalition was considered the front-runner, but ended up in third place.
Whereas lengthy railing towards the USA, the populist firebrand has additionally distanced himself from its key rival Iran, drawing nearer to regional Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia. But Sadr will not become prime minister because he did not run in the election.
Some prominent politicians now believe that al-Abadi is still the favorite to form the next government despite losing. In fact, this complicated reality could lead to weeks if not months of negotiation to form the next government.
Saturday's election is the first since the defeat of ISIL a year ago. Or will it be a coalition between all the ethnic and religious groups of Iraq?
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Although Saturday's election was largely peaceful, less than half of the country's 24.5 million voters headed to polling stations - the lowest turnout since the country's first multiparty elections in 2005.
"I call on Iraqis to respect the results of the elections", he said.
"His visit coincided with the announcement of the election results".
Reports state that the alliance of the Sadr Movement and the Iraqi Communist Party won the approval of just over 1.3 million people and the gain of 54 seats in a parliament of 329.
Sadr has reinvented himself as an anti-graft crusader after rising to prominence as a strong militia chief whose group waged a bloody insurgency towards U.S. forces after the 2003 invasion.
The remaining uncounted ballots, mostly from Iraqis overseas, the security services, and internally displaced people voting in camps and elsewhere, might change the final seat tallies but only marginally.
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The stunning election outcome was expected to ruffle financial markets that were expecting a comfortable win for Najib and the BN. Mr Najib, 64, said earlier that he and his wife Rosmah Mansor would go on a holiday on Saturday and would return next week.