Iraq elections 2021 - Cleric Sadr wins Iraq vote

Shi'ite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's party was the biggest winner in an Iraqi election on Monday, increasing the number of seats he holds in parliament, according to initial results, officials and a spokesperson for the Sadrist Movement.

Former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki looked set to have the next largest win among Shi'ite parties, initial results showed.

Iraq's Shi'ite groups have dominated governments and government formation since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003 that toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein and catapulted the Shi'ite majority and the Kurds to power.

Sunday's election was held several months early, in response to mass protests in 2019 that toppled a government and showed widespread anger against political leaders whom many Iraqis say have enriched themselves at the expense of the country.

But a record low turnout suggested that a vote billed as a chance to wrestle control from the ruling elite would do little to dislodge sectarian religious parties in power since 2003.

A count based on initial results from several provinces plus the capital Baghdad, verified by local government officials, suggested Sadr had won more than 70 seats, which if confirmed could give him considerable influence in forming a government.

However, Sadr's group is just one of several that will have to enter negotiations to form a coalition capable of dominating parliament and forming an administration, a period of jockeying for position that may take weeks or longer.

Sadr broadcast a live speech on state TV claiming victory and promising a nationalist government free of foreign interference.

"We welcome all embassies that do not interfere in Iraq's internal affairs," he said, adding that celebrations would take place in the streets "without weapons."

Sadr has increased his power over the Iraqi state since coming first in the 2018 election where his coalition won 54 seats.

The unpredictable populist cleric has been a dominant figure and often kingmaker in Iraqi politics since the U.S. invasion.

Iraq has held five parliamentary elections since the fall of Saddam. Rampant sectarian violence unleashed during the U.S. occupation has abated, and Islamic State fighters who seized a third of the country in 2014 were defeated in 2017.

But many Iraqis say their lives have yet to improve. Infrastructure lies in disrepair and healthcare, education and electricity are inadequate.

The Sun newspaper brings you the latest breaking news videos and explainers from the UK and around the world

Become a Sun Subscriber and hit the bell to be the first to know

Read The Sun: www.thesun.co.uk
Like The Sun on Facebook: www.facebook.com/thesun/
Follow The Sun on Twitter: twitter.com/TheSun
Subscribe to The Sun on Snapchat: www.snapchat.com/discover/The_Sun/1633225139

Watch video on channel "The Sun"
Japan’s Mount Aso volcano erupts spewing clouds of molten rock and ash sending tourists fleeing.

Japan’s Mount Aso volcano erupts spewing clouds of molten rock and ash sending tourists fleeing.

A VOLCANO in Japan erupted today sending clouds of ash billowing into the sky as hikers rushed away from the popular tourist spot. No injuries were immediately reported after the late-morning eruption in southwest Japan. Read on: The Sun newspaper...

Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz pleads guilty to school massacre that killed 17.

Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz pleads guilty to school massacre that killed 17.

PARKLAND school shooter Nikolas Cruz pleaded guilty to all counts in the deadliest school massacre that killed 17, before crying in a bizarre rant to the victims' families. Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts...

FBI news conference after human remains found in Florida amid search for Brian Laundrie.

FBI news conference after human remains found in Florida amid search for Brian Laundrie.

HUMAN remains have been found in the search for fugitive Brian Laundrie, weeks after Gabby Petito was strangled to death, NBC news reported. The reported discovery came as Laundrie's personal items were found by his own parents on a trail he often...

Brits face restrictions if Covid spirals out of control this winter.

Brits face restrictions if Covid spirals out of control this winter.

BRITS were tonight given grim government warnings that Covid cases could reach 100,000 daily - and told that ministers "won't hesitate to act". Sajid Javid dangled the bleak prospect of tough winter restrictions like masks, working from home and v...

Floods in India & Nepal kill more than 100

Floods in India & Nepal kill more than 100

More than a hundred people died in India and Nepal due to floods and landslides after several days of heavy rains that swept houses and roads, authorities from both countries said Wednesday, adding that there are many missing. In the state of Utta...