Populist Shia cleric wins most seats in Iraqi election, initial results suggest

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Iraq’s influential Shia cleric Muktada al-Sadr’s party has taken the most seats in Iraq’s national election, according to preliminary results and movement officials, after the vote followed a record low voter turnout, making them a potential kingmaker.

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The Sadr movement, led by a populist cleric known for revolting against the US military in the mid-2000s, won 73 out of 329 members of parliament, a spokesman for the movement reported. Granthshala.

An Iraqi election commission official confirmed that Sadrist came first in the election, but did not immediately confirm how many seats the party won because the count was incomplete.

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Partial results indicated that the Sunni coalition led by parliament speaker Mohamed al-Halbousi was coming in second with around 38 seats.

But it had just one seat behind it – the State of Law Coalition – led by former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, indicating that the country’s Shia parties are once again ready for an impressive presence in the upcoming parliament.

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Iraq’s Shia groups have long dominated the country’s political arena and led government formation since the US-led invasion of 2003, which toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein and brought a Shia majority and Kurds to power. Gave.

The Sadarwadi movement is widely expected to lead to the formation of the next government.

Spokesperson of Sadar Office said Granthshala He believes he has taken at least 73 seats in Baghdad with a majority.

“It’s not as ambitious as we wanted it to be,” the official said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

“We were expecting 85 seats, but still it is a good number,” he said.

However, openly pro-Iranian groups were among the worst losers. The Fatah coalition of candidates representing mostly pro-Iranian state-sanctioned militias may have secured as little as 14 seats, a third of the seats they took in the 2018 election.

He apparently struggled to rally support as he faced criticism for close ties with armed groups accused of killing some of the nearly 600 people in the country’s uprising in 2019, which sparked an early vote.

The elections were held seven months ago after a major demand for a popular uprising formed to protest local corruption, rising unemployment and the proliferation of armed groups. Over 600 people died in a few months as the rallies were brutally crushed.

The country’s prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, also agreed to push for new election legislation, which experts say was not perfect, but could loosen the hold on the legislature of the main political parties by opening the door to independent candidates. Gave.

“It appears like that [Fatah] They are being punished by their own constituency who are not visible but also by those who have criticized groups in the PMF [militias] And security forces are responsible for cracking down on protesters… crime and intimidation,” said Sajjad Ziad, an Iraqi researcher at the Century Foundation think tank.

“It is a matter of concern if Fatah decides to challenge the election results or if they form an opposition, not within the framework of parliament, if they decide to use opposition which might Could be violent,” Ziad said.

Iraqi media reported on Monday that Fatah officials have vowed to contest the election results and have called an urgent meeting, raising fears of a worse period of political wrangling ahead.

Preliminary results showed several independent candidates entering parliament, although the number of seats was not immediately known.

Among them was the Imtidad movement, one of the few activist-led new parties that captured at least five seats in Nasiriyah, a city that has recently become the epicenter of the rebellion. Their founder, Ala al-Rikabi, told Granthshala He intended to create “Iraq’s first real opposition in 100 years” within parliament.

This may help Ziyad in the next election. “If people can see a group of lawmakers who don’t take part in government and act in the best interest of the people, people will vote for them next time.”

Despite early elections and the new electoral law, youth activists called for a boycott of the elections, believing they were dominated by political old defenders. A series of forced disappearances and targeted killings that have killed more than 30 people has discouraged voters from participating.

This meant that the early voting showed a record low participation of only 41 percent of registered voters.

Asked whether the low turnout undermined his victory, a Sadhrist Movement spokesman dismissed the concerns. “Yes, there was a low turnout but (we) are not worried, the vote shows us as a clear winner,” he said.

The other big winners were the Kurdish parties which took 61 seats provisionally.

Since 2003 elections in Iraq have been followed by lengthy negotiations that can last for months and serve to distribute government positions among the major parties.

Monday’s result is not expected to dramatically change the balance of power in Iraq or the wider region.

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Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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