Muqtada al-Sadr Alliance Wins Elections in Iraq

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Populist Shiite religious scholar Moqtada Sadr Tuesday eyed a governing coalition after dealing a blow to both Iranian and US influence with a shock election triumph that upended Iraqi politics.

With more than 90 percent of votes counted, the coalition of Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr is set to win Iraq's parliamentary elections.

A political outlier before Saturday's ballot, Sadr is best known for leading the "fearsome" Mehdi Army in two insurgencies against U.S. troops in Iraq, following the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

He has extended a hand to a wide spread of parties - including the bloc of current Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that lies in third place according to latest results.

Sadr fled to Iran before a government crackdown on the Mehdi Army, but has since moved to distance himself from Iran.

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Al-Sadr refused to form a coalition with supporters of Iran

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

Only 44.52 percent of about 24 million people eligible to vote participated in the consultation, a decrease of 15 percentage points, compared to 2014.

Sadr cannot become prime minister since he did not personally run in the election, but the fact that those within his party hold a large number of seats could put him in a position to pick someone for the job.

He was followed by Amiri with more than 1.2 million votes, translating into around 47 seats, and Abadi with more than 1 million votes and about 42 seats.

It may be Abadi, Reuters reports, who has signaled a willingness to work with Sadr to form a working government. Iran has publicly stated it will not allow his bloc to govern.

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