Muqtada al-Sadr’s Coalition Takes Early Lead in Iraqi Elections

Muqtada al-Sadr

(From NBC News)

A coalition headed by influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr took an early lead in Iraq’s national elections after partial returns were announced late Sunday by the country’s electoral commission.

In second place were an alliance of candidates linked to Iraq’s powerful Shiite paramilitary groups, headed by Hadi al-Amiri. Al-Amiri is a former transport minister whose Badr organization played a key role in the battle against Islamic State. But some Iraqis resent his close ties to Tehran. The dissident-turned-militia leader spent more than two decades fighting Saddam Hussein from exile in Iran.

Incumbent prime minister Haider al-Abadi performed poorly across the majority Shiite provinces that should have been his base of support.

The early results came via a televised announcement of vote tallies for each province’s candidate list. They were announced just over 24 hours after polls closed across the country amid record low voter turnout. The electoral commission gave no indication of when further results would be announced.

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