Al Sadr says Iraq will form government free of external influences

Populist cleric has secured the highest number of seats in parliamentary elections

Iraqi cleric Muqtada Al Sadr after preliminary results of Iraq's parliamentary election were announced in Najaf, Iraq, on October 11, 2021. Reuters
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Iraqi populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr said on Wednesday his country will form a national government free of external influences after the ratification of election results that confirmed gains for the Shiite leader.

Mr Al Sadr's coalition secured 73 of the Parliament's 329 seats in the national elections, gaining more than any other party and up from 54 in 2018 polls.

“In the name of God ... a government of national unity, neither eastern nor western,” Mr Al Sadr said on Twitter after meeting with leaders of the Iraqi Co-ordination Framework, the umbrella group of Shiite parties contesting the election’s results.

The meeting with Shiite leaders included paramilitary leader Hadi Al Amiri, who leads the Fatah party, and Qais Al Khazali who is secretary general of the Iran-backed Asaib Ahl Al Haq, and Falih Al Fayyadh, head of the government's Popular Mobilisation Commission.

The cleric is a former leader of an anti-American militia who has often surprised observers with his political manoeuvres.

He has long said that he is pushing to be in the majority government but not in a coalition with weaker parties. He believes that a coalition government fails to serve the interests of Iraqis.

The decision made by the Federal Supreme Court places Mr Al Sadr at the centre of Iraq's lengthy government formation process.

A dispute was raised by an Iran-backed Shiite bloc that contested gains by a rival Shiite political bloc that had stalled the formation of a government.

After the announcement of the court’s decision on Monday, Mr Al Sadr thanked the electoral commission and the Iraqi people on Twitter.

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Updated: December 30, 2021, 3:49 AM