Al-Sadr and Abadi wait for election recount results to determine new government in Iraq

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By Middle East Affairs

Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr is facing difficulties forming his new government after Iraqi prime ministers called for a recount of votes and raised concerns over the accuracy of the election.

In last month’s election in Iraq, Al-Sadr emerged as the winner of the parliamentary election securing 54 seats in parliament and gaining the majority.

A majority of Iraqi prime ministers called for a recount of votes by hand after they become suspicious of election results, some of the current Iraqi ministers enjoy an alliance with Iran, while Al-Sadr wants to get Iranian influence out of Iraq.

Al-Sadr has been called the kingmaker because his majority in parliament allows him to select the new prime minister when he forms the new government. The current Prime Minister Haider Abadi was expected to retain his position with Al-Sadr’s support, however, with the voter recount, and Abadi’s part in questioning the legitimacy of the election, Al-Sadr no longer wants him in his government.

Al-Sadr wishes to form a strong independent government for the good of the Iraqi people, but the recount has made his win look weak and leaves him subject to smaller political factions.

Al-Sad and Abadi are now both waiting for results of the recount votes to come out, both believe that the results will shine favorably on himself.

Abadi is the leader of the Dawa party, which has been in charge of the government since 2005, many blame it for the widespread corruption inside the country. Al-Sadr wants Abadi to give up his position as chairman of the political party if he wants a second term as prime minister, Abadi has refused.

Al-Sadr wants the party out of his new government and wants to focus on independent technocrats to help improve the services offered to Iraqis.

An anonymous source speaking to Arab News said that Abadi does not want to be at the mercy of Al-Sadr nor does he wish to be tied to him at any given time.

Al-Sadr rose to prominence in 2003 when he led a militia insurgency against U.S. troops in the Iraq war, he has a past record of brutal and violent actions, years earlier he was an ally of Iran, but in recent years has come out as being an Iraqi nationalist who seeks to ban all Iranian influences.

Prior to the recount, Al-Sadr and Abadi were set to form a coalition government with Al-Hikma alliance, led by Ammar Al-Hakim. On Thursday, Al-Sadr announced his new plans to form a new coalition with Hakim and Iyad Allawi, who served interim prime minister during 2004 to 2005.

If the election recount comes back with the same results as the first time, Al-Sadr should have 100 votes in parliament, falling short of the majority of 166 that Al-Sadr needs to stop his opponents from forming a bigger bloc of coalition governments without him, causing him to lose his power as the kingmaker of the new prime minister.

Abadi is betting that his support from the U.S. along with regional fears of Al-Sadr’s instability and volatile record allows him to stay on as prime minister.

According to another anonymous source who spoke to Arab News, a top up official of Al-Hikma said that Abadi is playing it safe, refusing to join any coalition until he is guaranteed his position as prime minister.

The source in speaking with Arab News said, (Abadi) said that he is a technocrat and practically out of Dawa but he is still with Dawa and the head of the political office of the party.”

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