0446 GMT October 28, 2021
Top cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's party became the biggest winner in an Iraqi election, 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 Shia parties, initial results showed, Reuters reported.
Iraq's Shia groups have dominated governments since the US-led invasion of 2003 that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.
Sunday's election was held several months early, in response to mass protests in 2019 that toppled a government.
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 could give him considerable influence in forming a government.
However, Sadr's Shia 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 national TV declaring victory and promising a nationalist government.
"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 called for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, where Washington maintains a force of around 2,500.
The initial results also showed that pro-reform candidates who emerged from the 2019 protests had gained several seats in the 329-member parliament.
Kurdish parties won 61 seats, the results showed, including 32 for the Kurdistan Democratic Party which dominates the government of the semiautonomous Kurdish region of Iraq, and 15 for its rival the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party.
Sunni Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi's Taqaddum coalition won 38 seats, Iraq's state news agency reported, making it the second largest in parliament. Maliki's State of Law coalition came third overall with 37.
Parties with links to resistance groups won less seats than in the last election in 2018, according to local officials.
The leader of Iraq's Fatah (Conquest) Alliance political coalition dismissed the results, describing them as “fabricated”.
“We will not accept these fabricated results, whatever the cost,” said Hadi al-Amiri, the secretary general of the Badr Organization, a political party close to the Popular Mobilization Units on Tuesday.
“We will defend the votes cast for our candidates and voters with full force.”
Separately, the Coordinating Committee of Shia Parties in Iraq rejected the results of the national elections, and raised strong objection over what it described as the High Electoral Commission’s failure to honor its obligations, Press TV reported.
The committee is comprised of Fatah Alliance, the State of Law Alliance, Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq political party, Kata'ib Hezbollah as well as other Shia factions.
“Given the insistence of the coordinating committee and calls by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most powerful religious authority, for a free, safe and fair vote, and in order to prevent major doubts and problems that ensued the 2018 elections and resulted in a political stalemate and unfortunate events, we had presented all technical points to the High Electoral Commission in order to ensure the democratic process of the elections and its cleanness,” it said in a statement.
“The commission pledged to address all these problems with practical steps. It, however, failed to take the legal measures it had earlier pledged to adopt.
“We, therefore, announce our appeal against the announced results and our rejection of them. We will take all available measures to prevent the manipulation of votes,” it concluded.
According to the preliminary results of Iraq’s parliamentary elections, Fatah Alliance won 14 seats in 2020. It had secured 48 seats in the 2018 vote.