Iraq rivals jostle for power after Sadr's shock win
16 May, 2018, 14:05 | Author: Jason Torres
The reports come a day after Iraqi leaders - including outgoing Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi - met with the envoy for the US-led anti-Islamic State group coalition Brett McGurk "to discuss the formation of a strong and stable Iraqi government", according to a statement from Iraq's parliament speaker.
Sadr's apparent victory does not mean his bloc could necessarily form the next government as whoever wins the most seats must negotiate a coalition government, expected to be formed within 90 days of the official results.
Sadr - the former leader of the anti-Western Mahdi Army during the U.S. occupation - ran on a campaign promising to stamp out corruption but has also been keen to distance himself from Iranian influence.
He announced Tuesday on state television that it was the responsibility of Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) to conduct the recount to determine accurate results, citing high-profile charges of vote tampering in the disputed province of Kirkuk.
Moreover, Qasem Mohebali, former director-general of political affairs of the Middle East in Iran's Foreign Ministry, told the moderate Entekhab news site on May 15, "Perhaps the reason for [Sairoon] Alliance's attraction for the Iraqi people was Muqtada al-Sadr's nationalist slogans like 'Arab Iraq.' On the other hand, the corruption of the previous governments was also impactful in turning people away [from the other groups]".
The US has called for an "inclusive government, responsive to the needs of all Iraqis". Corruption has been at the top of Sadr's agenda for several years.
He can not become prime minister as he did not run in the election, though his apparent victory puts him in a position to pick someone for the job.
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. It included full returns from only 10 of the country's 19 provinces, including the provinces of Baghdad and Basra.
Reuters could not independently verify the document's authenticity but the results in it for the 16 announced provinces were in line with those announced by the commission. More than 2 million people are displaced by war, a lot of them Sunnis. 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.
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The attack targeted the tax and revenue office of Nangarhar Province in the city center of Jalalabad on May 13. According to the local Ashna Radio, a suicide-car bombing followed an exchange of fire at the directorate.
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