The Latest: Iraqi cleric al-Sadr leads in early vote results
BAGHDAD (AP) — The latest on Iraq’s national elections. (all times local):
Iraq’s electoral commission says influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s alliance is the early front-runner in national elections, with official results in from just over half of the country’s provinces.
The announcement Sunday night comes a day after polls closed across Iraq. The results are from 10 of the country’s 19 provinces, including Baghdad and Basra.
An alliance of candidates with close ties to Iraq’s powerful Shiite paramilitary groups are in a close second while Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has performed poorly across majority Shiite provinces that should have been his base of support.
The election was marked by record low turnout. It was the first since Iraq declared victory over the Islamic State group and the fourth since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
Iraq’s election commission says the results of the first national vote since declaring victory over the Islamic State group are expected within two days.
The vote Saturday saw a record low turnout, with 44 percent of eligible voters casting ballots. No election since 2003 has had turnout below 60 percent. More than 10 million Iraqis voted.
Polling station officials blamed the low turnout on a combination of tight security measures, voter apathy and irregularities linked to a new electronic voting system.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is running to keep his post. His chief rivals are political parties with closer ties to Iran, as well as the influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, a staunch nationalist who campaigned against government corruption.