Iraq's al-Sadr joins forces with Iran-backed coalition

Evarado Alatorre
Junio 14, 2018

Nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced on Tuesday a surprise political alliance with pro-Iranian Hadi al-Amiri in a bid to lead Iraq over the next four years.

At a joint press conference with Amiri in the city of Najaf, regarded as a holy city among Shi'a, Sadr said they would form "a true alliance to accelerate the formation of a national government away from any dogmatism". Our new alliance is a nationalist one.

The two Shi'ite figures said they would keep the door open for other winning blocs to join them in forming a new government.

"We had a very positive meeting in order to end the suffering of the country and the people", al-Sadr said. "Our new alliance is a nationalist one", Sadr said.

His Sa'eroun alliance, which also includes the Communist Party and secular candidates, won 54 seats, followed by Fatah, a coalition of Shiite paramilitaries who fought the Islamic State group, with 47 seats. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's Victory alliance took 42 seats.

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The May election saw a record number of abstentions as many Iraqis snubbed the corruption-tainted elite that has dominated the country since the 2003 USA invasion that toppled Hussein. It saw the lowest turnout in 15 years due to widespread anger at the country's dysfunctional political class. Last week Iraq's parliament ordered a manual vote recount and sacked the commission which oversaw the polls amid mounting claims of electoral fraud. It recommended a recount for 5 percent of the vote.

Hours later, lawmakers voted on annulling results of ballots from overseas and camps for displaced people in four Sunni-dominated provinces, and called for a manual recount of all ballots.

Final seat totals are still not totally clear, as the parliament has called for a recount, and a fire at a Baghdad ballot warehouse has left that in limbo.

The move by Sadr, who is opposed to Iranian involvement in the country, is the first serious step towards forming a new government after weeks of negotiations between parties.

Initial investigations, said al-Abadi, showed that Sunday's fire was deliberately lit by "criminals who seek to sabotage the political process from one side and to steal the voters' votes from another".

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