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BAGHDAD — The surprisingly strong showing of a ticket backed by maverick cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Iraqi elections over the weekend will force US officials to recalculate how best to proceed in the region at an especially sensitive moment.

According to the same source, the Al-Wataniya coalition, led by Iyad Allawi, won 29 seats; the State of Law coalition, led by Nuri al-Maliki, picked up 24 seats; the Kurdistan Democratic Party, led by Masoud Barzani, clinched 23 seats; the National Wisdom Movement, led by Ammar al-Hakim, won 22 seats; and the Al-Qarar coalition, led by Osama al-Nujaifi, captured 18 seats.

Several senior political figures had previously told AFP that preliminary results put Abadi in the lead, on course to scoop 60 of the 329 parliament seats up for grabs.

Abadi - who came to power as IS swept across Iraq in 2014 - has been a consensus figure who balanced off the USA and Iran.

After the announcement that the Marching Towards Reform was ahead in Baghdad, supporters took to the streets in the capital to celebrate early Monday.

Crowds of primarily younger folks waved flags and photos of the populist nationalist cleric Sadr whereas fireworks fired off into the evening sky.

Both Sadr and Ameri are political veterans well-known to Iraqis, but they pitched themselves as outsiders seeking to sweep clean the country's reviled elite.

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Officials said turnout was only 44 percent, the lowest ever since Saddam Hussein's ouster. Three million people were eligible to vote in the Kurdistan Region. It is the lowest voter turnout rate in Iraq in the past 13 years.

Within the years after 2003 invasion of Iraq, Sadr and the militia he managed grew to become a serious thorn within the facet of USA army, waging a brutal and expensive insurgency towards coalition troops.

"We are prepared to contribute to the development and construction of Iraq", he concluded.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, whose nation nonetheless has troops in Iraq from the battle with IS, on Saturday lauded the ballot and known as for an "inclusive authorities, aware of the wants of all Iraqis".

Whoever emerges as premier will face the mammoth task of rebuilding a country left shattered by the battle against IS - with donors already pledging $30 billion (25 billion euros).

Members of the Iraqi security forces stand guard as people queue in front of a polling station in the Wadi Hajar district of Mosul on May 12, 2018, still partially in ruins from the devastating months-long fight to oust the Islamic State (IS) group.


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