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Iraq elections: Early indicators favour populist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr

  A populist coalition organised by influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr emerged as the early front-runner Monday with half the vote counted in Iraq’s national election. Partial returns from Saturday’s balloting — the first since Iraq declared victory over the Islamic State militant group — were announced by the country’s electoral commission and put al-Sadr’s political alliance in the lead in four provinces, including Baghdad. Remembered for leading an insurgency against US forces and inciting sectarian bloodshed against the Sunni population, al-Sadr has in recent years sought to recast himself as a populist, railing against corruption and failing services and striking a political alliance with Iraq’s secularists and Communist Party.



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