Early results in Iraq election favour populist cleric al-Sadr

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In Iraq, a populist coalition organised by influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr emerged as the early front-runner till half the vote counted in country’s national election last night.

Partial returns from Saturday’s balloting, the first since Iraq declared victory over the Islamic State militant group were announced by the country’s electoral commission and put al-Sadr’s political alliance in the lead in four provinces, including Baghdad.

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 U.S. occupation.

An electoral alliance of Hashd-linked candidates, headed by militia commander Hadi al-Amiri, is currently in second place in the election returns.

So far, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is performing poorly in early returns.

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