Iraqi PM orders recount in Kirkuk

However, Sadr's coalition looks unlikely to win enough seats to form a government in its own right, and is likely to begin talks with other candidates to name a new prime minister.

Unlike Abadi, a rare ally of both the United States and Iran, Sadr is an opponent of both countries, which have wielded influence in Iraq since a US -led invasion toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003 and thrust the Shiite majority into power.

Al-Sadr led the Mahdi army in the early years of the war on terror, using IEDs and machine guns to kill Western forces, O'Neill said.

Al-Sadr commands the devotion of millions of Iraqis who have sent their sons and husbands to fight for his militia from the early days of the US occupation.

The announcement came just over 24 hours after polls closed across the country amid record low voter turnout.

Nationalist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Sairoon Coalition achieved an upset victory, in what has been described as a repudiation of both United States and Iranian influence in Iraq.

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A document provided to Reuters by a candidate in Baghdad that was also circulating among journalists and analysts showed results from all 18 provinces.

Although the final results have already been declared by the Independent High Electoral Commission, the drama of the election is far from over. The results there, which may be delayed due to tensions between local parties, will not affect Sadr's standing. It will be clear in the next a few days whether his alliance can convince other Iraqi blocs to jointly form a government or whether it is possible that the regional powers will intervene once again and support their proxies to lead Iraq for another four years. Al-Sadr said in Tweet he was open to forming a coalition with al-Abadi to form a new government for Iraq.

The votes in the Kurdish provinces of Dohuk and Kirkuk are still to be counted, but their results will not affect al-Sadr's victory.

Celebrations erupted in Baghdad's Sadr City, an impoverished quarter that is home to some 3 million people and is named after the cleric's late father, Ayatollah Mohammad Sadq al-Sadr.

Iraqi firebrand political figure Muqtada al-Sadr is set to be announced the surprise victor of the country's elections and prepared for his new status as government titan by making a call for national unity.

The constitution sets a quota for female representation, stating that no less than one-fourth of parliament members must be women.

Azkals drawn fairly in their Asian Cup debut
But I don't give too much importance to Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings. But then, this time, we have UAE, Thailand and Bahrain - all good sides.

  • Megan Austin