Iraq election: Prime minister trails rivals

Iraq election: Prime minister trails rivals

Meanwhile, the favourites entering the elections, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's Victory Alliance only managed to come first in the northern province of Nineveh, which was liberated by Iraqi forces from ISIS militants at the end of past year.

The Sairun bloc, led by influential cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, has, however, shocked observers by emerging as the frontrunner.

The alliance is headed by Hadi al-Amiri, a former minister of transport with close ties to Iran who became a senior commander of paramilitary fighters in the fight against the Islamic State extremist group. Al-Abadi's Nasr (Victory) Coalition was considered the front-runner, but ended up in third place.

The Sadr-led army has also been blamed for "the killing of thousands of Sunni Muslims in the sectarian violence that plagued Iraq in 2006 and 2007", says the BBC.

Describing Abadi as a figure who has the support of both Iran and the United States, Shargh wrote, "Even though Abadi achieved significant domestic and worldwide success through the victory over Daesh [Islamic State], he failed to overcome economic problems, and this caused him not to achieve the results he expected in this election".

He can not become prime minister as he did not run in the election, though his apparent victory puts him in a position to pick someone for the job.

Ramadan Starts on May 17th in Most Muslim Nations
Muslims continue with work and school during Ramadan , though they are encouraged to inform their employer or teacher of the fact. Many Muslims will try and recite as much of the Koran as they can during the month.

The votes in the Kurdish provinces of Dohuk and Kirkuk are still to be counted, but their results will not affect al-Sadr's victory.

"We are ready to work and cooperate in forming the strongest government for Iraq, free of corruption", Abadi said in a live televised address.

Reuters could not independently verify the document's authenticity but the results in it for the 16 announced provinces were in line with those announced by the commission.

Sadr - who has ruled himself out of becoming PM - should be the key powerbroker and is already eyeing a coalition of around a dozen groups to reach a majority.

Celebrations erupted in Baghdad's Sadr City, an impoverished quarter that is home to about 3 million people and is named after the cleric's father, Ayatollah Mohammed Sadeq al-Sadr, who was killed by suspected agents of Saddam Hussein in 1999.

More than two million Iraqis are still displaced across the country and IS militants continue to mount deadly attacks despite having lost control of the territory they once held.

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