Iranian media react to populist cleric's victory in Iraq elections

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16 May, 2018

Because al-Sadr did not run for a seat, he can not become prime minister, but his deputies in parliament are expected to follow his directives. Although al-Sadr won't be prime minister because he himself didn't run in the election, he will have the power to name the next leader-and this could seriously influence Iraq's politics and policies.

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

Sadr has reinvented himself as an anti-graft crusader after rising to prominence as a powerful militia chief whose fighters battled USA forces after the 2003 invasion.

The announcement came just over 24 hours after polls closed across the country amid record low voter turnout. Sadr has ruled himself out of becoming prime minister.

Nationalist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Sairoon Coalition achieved an upset victory, in what has been described as a repudiation of both USA and Iranian influence in Iraq.

But after 14 years, more than $1 trillion, millions of Iraqi dead and thousands of USA troops killed and maimed, the US now has less influence over Iraq than it had while former Central Intelligence Agency operative Saddam Hussein was in power.

An Iraqi woman shows her ink-stained finger after casting her vote at a polling station during the parliamentary election in the Sadr city district of Baghdad.

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An electoral alliance of Hashd-linked candidates, headed by militia commander Hadi al-Amiri, is now in second place in the election returns.

Members of the national election commission read out vote tallies for each candidate list in each of the 10 provinces on national TV.

Influential Shia cleric Muqtada al Sadr's group were declared the winners of the Iraqi election after votes in 16 of 18 provinces were tallied. The Iranian-backed Shi'ite militia chief Hadi al-Amiri came in second with about 1.2 million votes and will control 47 seats.

Responding to Mr Abadi's comments, Mr Al Sadr described his victory as "an achievement for the Iraqi people and its national entitlement". It says it will announce the remaining results Tuesday.

While speculation swirls, the next concrete step remains completing the vote count and firming up the final makeup of Iraq's new 329-seat parliament.

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.


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