FORMER Shia militia chief and anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s political coalition has won the Iraqi parliamentary elections and is on the cusp of forming a government, forcing Iraq’s outgoing Prime Minister into third place.
By Matthew Robinson 01:55, Sun, May 20, 2018 | UPDATED: 02:08, Sun, May 20, 2018
Muqtada al-Sadr’s (R) coalition has won the Iraqi parliamentary elections, beating Haider al-Abadi
The political leader led two uprisings against the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2002 and many American officials regard Mr al-Sadr as being responsible for the deaths of many US troops.
Directly following the results, Mr al-Sadr wrote: “Your vote is an honour for us.
“Iraq and reforms have won with your votes.
“We will not disappoint you; the blame, all the blame is on those who failed Iraq.”
Mr al-Sadr is barred from becoming Prime Minister as he did not stand as a candidate himself
Haider al-Abadi was the US’s preferred candidate due to his strong connections to the West
The Saeroon Alliance, which is led by Mr al-Sadr, won 54 out of the 328 seats in the Iraqi parliament which is more than any other coalition.
The outgoing Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and his coalition Victory Alliance, which was the US’s preferred option, were pushed into third place with 42 seats.
The pro-Iranian Fatah Alliance, led by Hadi al-Amiri, took second place with 48 seats.
However Mr al-Sadr is barred from becoming Prime Minister as he did not stand as a candidate himself, but he is expected to play a fundamental role in the formation of the new government.
He will nevertheless face a complex task of forming a governing coalition after his alliance, made up of his own party and six other mainly secular groups which failed to achieve more than 55 seats.
Mr al-Sadr campaigned on an anti-corruption platform and promised to invest in public services.
During the election campaign, frustrated Iraqis of all shades complained about their political elite’s systematic patronage, bad governance and corruption – saying they didn’t receive any benefits of their country’s oil wealth.
Iraq has been ranked among the world’s most corrupt countries, with high unemployment, rife poverty, weak public institutions and bad services despite high oil revenues for many years.
Unlike outgoing Prime minister al-Abadi, a rare ally of both the United States and Iran, Mr al-Sadr is an enemy of both countries after they wielded influence in Iraq following the US-led invasion that toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein and ushered the Shi’ite majority to power.
Turnout during the election was 44.52 per cent according to the Independent High Electoral Commission, which was significantly lower than in previous elections.
Mr al-Sadr and Mr al-Amiri both came in first in four of the 10 provinces where votes were counted, but the cleric’s bloc won significantly more votes in the capital, Baghdad, which has the highest number of seats.