Shiite leader Moqtada Al-Sadr claims victory

Supporters of Moqtada Al-Sadr celebrate, in Tahir Square in Baghdad, on October 11, 2021, the victory of the Shiite leader's movement in the legislative elections.

Given the favorite for the legislative elections in Iraq, the current of the influential Shiite leader Moqtada Al-Sadr claimed, Monday evening October 11, the first force within the new Parliament.

“The people must celebrate this victory of the biggest bloc (…) without causing any inconvenience “, welcomed, during a televised address, Mr. Sadr, former militia leader who fought the American troops, and anti-Iran rhetoric.

In the evening, in Tahrir Square in central Baghdad, where horns, ululations and celebratory firecrackers mingled, a few hundred Sadrists gathered, waving Iraqi flags, flags of the movement and portraits of their leader. “We have been waiting for this victory for a long time”, rejoices Nasser. “Our hope is Moqtada Al-Sadr, no one else, he said. He is capable of reforming Iraq, of driving out corruption. “

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On condition of anonymity, an official of the Sadrist current assured Agence France-Presse (AFP) that the party had obtained a “Approximate number of 73 seats”, after a count of the number of successful candidates. An official of the Iraqi electoral commission, who requested anonymity, told AFP that the Sadrist current was indeed ” on your mind “, according to preliminary results.

No clear majority

The legislative elections, the fifth since 2003 and the overthrow of dictator Saddam Hussein in the wake of the American invasion of Iraq, were marked by a record abstention. Analysts believe, however, that beyond the distribution of seats in a Parliament that promises to be fragmented, the absence of a clear majority will force the different factions to negotiate alliances.

Throughout the day, the Election Commission released preliminary results in each of Iraq’s eighteen provinces, but it was impossible to know the exact number of seats each party won in the unicameral parliament (329 seats), the commission not revealing the affiliations of the winners.

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If a victory for the Sadrists is confirmed, it means that they have managed to increase their number in Parliament, from fifty-four deputies currently to more than seventy. This also means that they will retain their status as the first party, allowing them to have even more influence on the composition of the future government and the appointment of the prime minister.

Another trend emerges from the ballot: the breakthrough of the Alliance of the Rule of Law of former Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki. “We got thirty-seven seats in Parliament”, assured AFP a person in charge of this movement.

“Return to a political consensus”

The second force of the outgoing assembly, the Hachd Al-Chaabi coalition, which entered Parliament in 2018 after the military victory against the Islamic State organization (IS), seems, on the other hand, to suffer a sharp decline, according to observers. This political camp, allied with Iran, remains an essential piece of the political spectrum.

Political scientist Ihsan Al-Shamari predicts “Political friction” and “Struggles for the post of prime minister and the distribution of ministries”, but in the end, “All the indicators confirm a return to a political consensus”.

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In theory, some 25 million Iraqis were called to the polls. The electoral commission announced a turnout ” preliminary “ 41% among the more than 22 million registered voters. In 2018, it stood at 44.52%. At the time, opponents but also experts had estimated these inflated official figures

A prime minister not officially a candidate for his succession

Sunday’s elections were initially scheduled for 2022. Promised by Prime Minister Moustafa Al-Kazimi, they were brought forward to calm the protest born in October 2019 to denounce the sprawling corruption, a stalled economy, and failing public services in a country yet rich in oil.

Suppressed in the blood – at least 600 dead and 30,000 injured – the movement has since run out of steam. Dozens of activists were victims of kidnappings and assassinations. The protesters point to the armed factions loyal to Iran, with an essential role in Iraq and grouped within Hachd Al-Chaabi.

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If the political scene remains polarized on the same sensitive issues – the presence of American troops or the influence of the big Iranian neighbor – the parties will begin long negotiations to agree on a new head of government. This post has traditionally been held by a Shiite Muslim.

Prime Minister Moustafa Al-Kazimi is officially not a candidate for his succession but he continues to put forward his policy: he announced on Monday the arrest of Sami Jasim Al-Jaburi, a senior official of the ‘IS wanted by the United States.

The World with AFP

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