Iraq prime minister wins vote in Mosul province

Iraq prime minister wins vote in Mosul province

While many disillusioned Iraqis boycotted the vote, Mr Al Sadr's supporters could be relied upon to mobilise, said senior research fellow at London-based think tank Chatham House Renad Mansour. The results there, which may be delayed due to tensions between local parties, will not affect Sadr's standing.

Mr Al Sadr himself did not run in the election, so can not be appointed prime minister, but if his bloc's results are confirmed he may be in a position to determine Iraq's next leader.

Mr Al Sadr is one of the few Iraqi Shiite leaders to have kept his distance from neighbouring Iran.

"If we want to change things then the prime minister needs to come from Marching Towards Reform", said resident Salah Jamal, 24.

It may be Abadi, Reuters reports, who has signaled a willingness to work with Sadr to form a working government. Corruption has been at the top of Sadr's agenda for several years.

After years on the sidelines, he has reinvented himself as a champion of the poor and linked up with secularists to battle corruption. But Sadr will not become prime minister because he did not run in the election.

Yet, results suggest that there will be hung Parliament and the new government will likely be a coalition government.

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Any attempt to form a government that would threaten the influence Iran has built up in the 15 years since the fall of Saddam Hussein looks certain to face opposition from Tehran.

Saturday's election is the first since the defeat of ISIL previous year.

Abadi - who came to power in 2014 as IS rampaged across Iraq - has balanced off the USA and Iran during his time at the helm. It says it will announce the remaining results Tuesday.

With more than half of votes counted, a nationalist alliance between Shia Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr and mostly secular groups is in the lead.

Recounts following disputes in the Dohuk and Kirkuk provinces have delayed any final announcement, but officials said a full tally should be out over the next two days. The Iranian-backed Shi'ite militia chief Hadi al-Amiri came in second with about 1.2 million votes and will control 47 seats.

But after much manoeuvring, Allawi was eventually bested by Nuri al-Maliki, as Tehran helped engineer a union between two leading Shiite blocs to give him more seats. Of more than 2 million Iraqis displaced by the war, the majority are Sunnis.

Winning the largest number of seats does not automatically guarantee that Sadr will be able to hand-pick a prime minister. The other winning blocks, though, will have to approve his nomination.

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