Iraq election: Shia rivals of PM Abadi 'make gains'

Iraq election: Shia rivals of PM Abadi 'make gains'

Preliminary results have shown Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder Abadi's "Victory" alliance did much more poorly than anyone anticipated, coming in third place in Saturday's elections.

Nationalist Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is now on course to win the largest number of seats after the Iraqi election.

USA -backed Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi tallied just over 1 million votes and will control 42 seats, and former US puppet Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki - who turned on the US and cozied up to Iran - placed fourth and holds about 25 seats.

Sadr is an Iraqi nationalist who opposes both the USA and Iran meddling in Iraqi affairs.

Sadr's gains have called into question the presence of USA forces in Iraq, where more than 5,000 troops are indefinitely deployed to prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State group.

Mr Sadr cannot be appointed prime minister as he did not stand in the election but his apparent victory could make him the kingmaker in the coalition negotiations.

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In order to truly reverse the apathy felt by some Iraqis, the government - and whoever becomes prime minister - must actively break down sectarian barriers while engaging with young people.

Al-Sadr led the Mahdi army in the early years of the war on terror, using IEDs and machine guns to kill Western forces, O'Neill said.

Seats in parliament will be allocated proportionally to coalitions once all votes are counted. The government should be formed within 90 days of the official results. It included full returns from only 10 of the country's 19 provinces, including the provinces of Baghdad and Basra.

Also on Tuesday, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) called on IHEC to recount votes manually due to concerns from some Kurdish political parties over the preliminary elections results in the Kurdistan Region.

On Sunday night, officials from Iraq's election commission announced the nearly full returns from 10 of Iraq's 19 provinces, including Baghdad and Basra. Also at issue is the influence of Iran on the country: Iranian-backed Shiite militias who played a key role in defeating IS and were allied with the Shiite-led Baghdad government made significant electoral gains. They suggest Iraqis increasingly want to move towards civic-based politics that encompass people regardless of their background and sect. The other winning blocks, though, will have to approve his nomination.

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