The announcement, made in the Shiite holy city of Najaf in a meeting between American ally Abadi and a long-time US foe Sadr on Saturday, came as a surprise to many political observers.
Iraq’s outgoing Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr have said they have become political allies in an effort to form a new government in the wake of a widely discredited May elections. The announcement, made in the Shiite holy city of Najaf in a meeting between American ally Abadi and a long-time US foe Sadr on Saturday, came as a surprise to many political observers, the New York Times reported.
This was especially because Sadr-the top vote-getter-had already announced an alliance with a pro-Iranian Shiite leader, Hadi al-Ameri. Ameri was second in the polls, while Abadi was third. “This is a call for an alliance that is nonsectarian and rejects ethnic politics in order to include all of the Iraqi people,” Sadr said at a joint news conference with Abadi, who is still the Prime Minister until the new parliament sits on July 1 and elects his replacement. “We want to speed up the process of coming to a political agreement to send a positive message to the citizens that we are serious about moving forward,” Abadi said.
Sadr scored an upset victory as the leading vote-getter in the May 12 national parliamentary elections, which were marred by the lowest voter turnout since the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein. But no party won enough seats in parliament to govern without forming alliances with several of the many parties. The results were also contested on grounds of fraud, with the outgoing parliament ordering a manual recount of the votes, a decision upheld by Iraq’s highest court. It was unclear, however, whether the new parliament would carry out that decision, the New York Times report said.