NAJAF: The winner of Iraq’s October parliamentary election, Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, met on Wednesday with rivals from the pro-Iran Hashd Al-Shaabi former paramilitary alliance ahead of the opening of parliament.
The Oct. 10 vote was rejected by the Fatah Alliance, the political arm of the pro-Tehran Hashd, but Iraq’s top court on Monday dismissed their allegations of voter fraud and ratified the results.
It paves the way for parliament to meet and elect a president — who will then name a prime minister tasked with forming a new government.
In multi-confessional and multi-ethnic Iraq, the formation of governments has involved complex negotiations ever since the 2003 US-led invasion toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.
On Wednesday, leaders including Fatah Alliance chief Hadi Al-Ameri, senior Hashd official Faleh Al-Fayyad and Qais Al-Khazali, head of the Asaib Ahl Al-Haq force — a key component of the Hashd — were hosted by Sadr at his home in the Iraqi shrine city of Najaf, according to state news agency INA.
The leaders discussed “the political situation” and the “formation of the next government,” INA reported.
Sadr, a political maverick and former anti-US militia leader who opposes all foreign interference, had already met leaders from pro-Iran parties earlier this month.
Iraq is trying to recover from years of war and jihadist violence but remains hobbled by political divisions, corruption and poverty.
Parties from Iraq’s Shiite majority have previously struck compromise deals to work together, but Sadr is insistent he wants to forge a coalition capable of forming a parliamentary majority.
Sadr’s movement won more than a fifth of the seats, 73 out of the assembly’s total of 329. The Fatah Alliance took 17 seats, sharply down from its 48 seats in the past assembly, and Hashed leaders rejected the result.
Sadr, a self-styled defender against all forms of corruption, has repeatedly said that the next prime minister will be chosen by his movement.
The scion of an influential clerical family who led a militia against the US-led occupation of Iraq, Sadr has distinguished himself from other Shiite factions by seeking to distance himself from both Iranian and US influences.