Cleric eyes government as election upset rocks Iraq

  • Cleric eyes government as election upset rocks Iraq

Cleric eyes government as election upset rocks Iraq

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.

Sadr's bloc did not run in the remaining two provinces, Kurdish Dohuk and the ethnically mixed oil province of Kirkuk.

Sadr's tweet excluded mention of Former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law Coalition, al-Fatih led by Shia militia leader Hadi al-Amiri, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), all known for having close ties to Iran.

Sadr is one of the few Iraqi politicians who is opposed to both the presence of American troops in Iraq and the overbearing influence neighbouring Iran exercises over the country.

Seats in parliament will be allocated proportionately to coalitions once all votes are counted.

Turnout was 44.52 percent with 92 percent of votes counted, the Independent High Electoral Commission said, the lowest participation rate in Iraq's post-Saddam history.

A document provided to Reuters by a candidate in Baghdad that was also circulating among journalists and analysts showed results from all 18 provinces.

As if heightened tensions in Syria and Yemen and increased divisions in the U.S-Iran and Iran-Israel relations were not enough, a surprise-albeit still preliminary-election result in OPEC's second-largest producer Iraq could add further tensions to the Saudi-Iran rivalry and could turn Iraq in the next battle for influence in the Middle East, Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, told CNBC on Tuesday.

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

At elections in 2010, the Iraqi National Movement of Ayad Allawi - loathed by Iran - scooped 91 seats to become the biggest group in parliament.

"We will not allow liberals and communists to govern in Iraq", Ali Akbar Velayati, top adviser to the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in February.