Coalition led by Muqtada al Sadr wins Iraqi election

US embassy violence sparks fear Trump is roiling Mideast                         Read more

US embassy violence sparks fear Trump is roiling Mideast Read more

For his part, Sadr has made clear he is unwilling to compromise with Iran by forming a coalition with its main allies, Hadi Al-Amiri, leader of the Badr militia groups, and former prime minister Nuri Al-Maliki.

With votes coming in from 16 of Iraq's 18 provinces, Sairoon - an alliance between the Sadrist Movement and Iraq's Communist Party - won more than 1.3 million votes and 54 of 329 parliament seats.

After the election results were announced, he said he would only cooperate with Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, with the Kurds and the Sunnis.

Already pressured by the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Iran faces a major test in managing Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, an opponent who beat Tehran's longtime allies to achieve a shock victory in Iraq's parliamentary election.

Iraqi firebrand political figure Muqtada al-Sadr is set to be announced the surprise victor of the country's elections and prepared for his new status as government titan by making a call for national unity.

Unlike Abadi, a rare ally of both the United States and Iran, Sadr is an opponent of both countries, which have wielded influence in Iraq since a USA -led invasion toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003 and thrust the Shiite majority into power.

Projecting himself as an Iraqi nationalist, Sadr has a zealous following among the young, poor and dispossessed, but he had been sidelined by influential Iran-backed figures.

Sadr has led two uprisings against USA forces in Iraq and is one of the few Shia leaders to distance himself from Iran.

Sadr will not become prime minister, as he wasn't on the ballot, but a victory would allow him to appoint someone to the post. It included full returns from only 10 of the country's 19 provinces, including the provinces of Baghdad and Basra. It says it will announce the remaining results Tuesday.

Winning the largest number of seats does not automatically guarantee that Sadr will be able to hand-pick a prime minister.

Political sources told AFP that two meetings have been held under Iranian guidance to bring together several political blocs.

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