Iraqi Election Frontrunner Moktada al-Sadr Courts Partners to Govern

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Populist Shiite religious scholar Moqtada Sadr Tuesday eyed a governing coalition after dealing a blow to both Iranian and USA influence with a shock election triumph that upended Iraqi politics.

With more than half the votes counted, firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who is leading a coalition of groups including his own Istiqama (Integrity) party as well as secularist and communist candidates, has taken a clear lead.

A political outlier before Saturday's ballot, Sadr is best known for leading the "fearsome" Mehdi Army in two insurgencies against United States troops in Iraq, following the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Monday revealed potential political allies needed to form a new government following Saturday's as-of-yet inconclusive elections.

Sadr is an Iraqi nationalist who opposes both the USA and Iran meddling in Iraqi affairs.

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The pilot added that the cabin equipment malfunctioned as a result and it was so noisy he could not hear the wireless. According to Sichuan Airlines, the reason was due to a " mechanical failure " but no further details were available.

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

Sadr has led two uprisings against USA forces in Iraq and is one of the few Shia leaders to distance himself from Iran. Whoever wins the most seats must negotiate a coalition government in order to have a majority in parliament.

Voter turnout was at a low 44 percent, 15 percent lower than the turnout in the 2014 parliamentary elections. By the end of the announcement, al-Sadr's list had the highest popular vote, followed by al-Amiri's. The commission gave no indication on when further results would be announced.

The remaining uncounted ballots, mostly from Iraqis overseas, the security services, and internally displaced people voting in camps and elsewhere, might change the final seat tallies but only marginally.

A similar fate could befall Sadr.

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