Populist cleric Sadr all but wins Iraq parliament election

Populist cleric Sadr all but wins Iraq parliament election

Populist cleric Sadr all but wins Iraq parliament election

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.

The front-runner in Iraqi elections, the populist Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, wasted little time trying to prove to potential allies that he is serious about shaking up the government and cleaning up corruption as he worked to cobble together a governing coalition.

Under article 76 of Iraq's constitution, the right to form a government falls to the political bloc with the most seats.

Strengthened by his apparent victory in Saturday's polls, black-turbaned Sadr could now push his nationalist agenda that has seen him pledge to curb foreign meddling in Iraq.

Since he did not run for a seat, he will not be eligible for the role.

Sadr faces a hard act to herd together enough groups from across Iraq's fragmented political spectrum to form a government. The group overran a third of Iraq in 2014. Full results are due to be officially announced later on Monday.

With more than 90 percent of votes counted, the coalition of Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr is set to win Iraq's parliamentary elections. The Iranian-backed Shi'ite militia chief Hadi al-Amiri came in second with about 1.2 million votes and will control 47 seats.

Will not enter the coalition and the movement "For the rule of law", headed by former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. The other winning blocks, though, will have to approve his nomination.

A similar fate could befall Sadr.

"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.

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