Shiite cleric al-Sadr leads in Iraq's initial vote results

Unlike Abadi, a rare ally of both the United States and Iran, Sadr is an opponent of both countries, which have wielded influence in Iraq since a USA -led invasion toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003 and thrust the Shiite majority into power.

Al-Sadr commands the devotion of millions of Iraqis who have sent their sons and husbands to fight for his militia from the early days of the USA occupation. Turnout was only 44.52%, the lowest since the defeat of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003. Former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a close ally of Iran like Amiri, came in fourth with around 25 seats.

Al-Sadr commands his own militia that fought against IS militants, but he has disavowed any Iranian and USA influence in Iraq, and he has called for the full withdrawal of US troops.

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.

The Reformist Shargh newspaper wrote that the surprising results of the Iraqi elections may signal a greater Saudi influence in Baghdad.

Subsequent within the working was the Conquest Alliance, made up of ex-fighters from primarily Iran-backed paramilitary models that battled IS, with outcomes placing them forward in 4 provinces and second in eight others.

The electoral commission released results from 10 of 19 provinces Sunday night, including tallies from Baghdad and Basra provinces. Kirkuk's governor Rakan al-Jubouri has also called for a manual recount of votes, a call supported by Turkmen in the province as well. The Iranian-backed Shi'ite militia chief Hadi al-Amiri came in second with about 1.2 million votes and will control 47 seats. Sadr - who has ruled himself out of becoming prime minister - looks likely to be the key powerbroker and has already mooted a technocrat government of some dozen parties that bridge sectarian divides. It says it will announce the remaining results Tuesday. Whoever wins the most seats must negotiate a coalition government in order to have a majority in parliament.

An Iraqi woman shows her ink-stained index finger before a national flag after having cast her vote in the parliamentary election, in the capital Baghdad's Karrada district.

Iraqi Shiite cleric and leader Moqtada al-Sadr puts his ballot through an electronic counting machine into a ballot box at poll station in the central holy city of Najaf.

  • Tracy Klein