Politicians from two of the largest political blocs in Iraq after the national elections on October 10 are calling for unity, as rival political groups negotiate for important positions in a new and inclusive government.
Another bloc, Fatah, which is linked to Iran-backed groups, as well as two blocs led by former Iraqi prime ministers – Haidar Al Abadi's National State Forces and Nouri Al Maliki's State of Law, are contesting the election results.
The general election saw populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr’s political coalition land the majority of votes. The bloc is expected to hold major influence over Iraq’s direction and relationship with Iran and the West. Fatah suffered major losses, winning only 14 seats in the 329-member assembly.
“The next government will be formed against the will of the US, Iran and Turkey, and will be a national government. We must unite together,” said Ameer Al Kinani, a member of the Sadrist movement who won the majority of seats in the Iraqi Parliament.
Although the final results of the elections have yet to be announced, the preliminary outcome puts the Sadrist movement top with 72 seats.
“We need a strategic vision for management, our problem is due to the various coalitions, with every government-building process we have a crisis, from outlining the budget to choosing Cabinet ministers,” Mr Al Kinani said at a forum held by The Middle East Research Institute in Erbil.
“We are the political powers that are responsible for reforms, changes and to serve the public. We’ve been chosen democratically to govern."
The second biggest winner in the elections was Parliament Speaker Mohammed Al Halbousi’s Taqaddum group, which won 37 seats, while the State of Law bloc was third with about 35.
Speaking on the panel of politicians was Muzahim Al Khayat, a newly elected MP for the Taqaddum coalition, who said Iraq’s democracy was in danger.
“It is up to the country’s political groups to move forward and overcome challenges. We need a national political dialogue,” he said.
It is the only way to overcome corruption, build the economy and offer opportunities for the youth, he said.
Mr Al Khayat called for unity, “otherwise chaos will prevail in the country which will lead to the collapse of the state”.
"Iraq needs a national vision so that the destroyed cities and nation will be rebuilt. We need a united and strong Iraq in this neighbourhood,” he said.
Jafar Eminki from the Kurdish Democratic Party said that, “no single component can lead Iraq alone. Iraq can be strong if all components are participating together.”
"We should all agree on a common programme because ministries and positions are not important. What is important is to have a strong federal government in Baghdad."
Now that preliminary results are out, the winning parties will have to engage in dialogue to form the new government.
The period after the results is a crucial time for political parties as they negotiate to secure vital ministries for their candidates.
Diplomatic reactions to the election process
US ambassador to Iraq, Mathew Tueller, said the national elections provided "an extraordinary signal that democracy can prevail in this region”.
Washington is calling on Iraq to “form a government in the same peaceful sphere that prevailed during the election period”, he said.
“We also support a government formation process that reflects the will of the people.”
“Iraqis must find a way to adapt and find democracy in their new government and we will find ways to work with leaders to find this.
“The US believes that Iraqi people deserve the right to express their will and form the government without external interference."