Iraqi PM Abadi leading in parliamentary election, according to unofficial vote count

Incumbent prime minister Haider al-Abadi appears ahead in Iraq's election, a poll that could determine how much sway Iran has in the country.
Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi arriving at a polling station to cast his vote, in Baghdad on May 12, 2018.
Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi arriving at a polling station to cast his vote, in Baghdad on May 12, 2018.PHOTO: AFP/IRAQI PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE

BAGHDAD (REUTERS) - Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's list appears to be leading in Iraq's parliamentary election, followed by influential Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's alliance, an election commission source and a security official told Reuters.

The sources cited unofficial initial results.

Iraqis voted on Saturday (May 12) in the first election since the defeat of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants in the country. Final results are expected on Monday.

Turnout was low at around 45 per cent, according to the election commission.

Mr Abadi, a rare ally of both the United States and Iran, was mainly concerned with fending off Shi'ite groups other than Mr Sadr's alliance, which are seeking to pull the country closer to Teheran.

Unofficial results compiled by Reuters reporters in southern provinces also indicated that Mr Sadr, a firebrand cleric who led a violent uprising against US troops from 2003 to 2011, appeared to be making a strong showing.

If the Sadr list finished second, that would mark a surprise comeback by the cleric.

He is popular among the poor but has been sidelined by influential Iranian-backed figures.