Shiite cleric Sadr’s coalition leads early Iraq election returns

Voters line up to cast ballots Saturday at a polling site in a camp for displaced people in Baharka, Iraq. (Bram Janssen/AP)

An electoral coalition backed by Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr led early Iraq election results released Sunday. If the count holds when the final official tally is released Monday, the vote will upset the re-election campaign of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Sadr, who led a militia that fought U.S. troops during the occupation of Iraq, was not a candidate for office, but his coalition, called Sairoon, held a big lead in the capital city of Baghdad, which has the biggest presence in the 329-seat parliament. Abadi’s coalition, which was the faction preferred by the U.S. and had been predicted to win, came in fifth in Baghdad and third overall. Sadr surprised everyone by building a non-Islamist, cross-sectarian coalition for the Saturday election.

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