Iraq's Abadi pledges 'strong' government after meeting with Sadr

Iraq's Abadi pledges 'strong' government after meeting with Sadr
Election winner Muqtada al-Sadr will have a strong say in negotiations to form the next Iraq government.
2 min read
20 May, 2018
Iraq's PM Abadi held a joint press conferene with election winner Sadr [Getty]
Iraq's incumbent Prime Minister and incoming kingmaker Muqtada al-Sadr have pledged to form a "strong" coalition in their first meeting since the cleric's election win.

"During our meeting, we agreed to work together and with other parties to expedite the process of forming a new Iraqi government," Abadi said at a joint press conference late on Saturday.

"It will be a strong government, capable of providing to its citizens services, security and economic prosperity."

Nationalist Shia cleric Sadr, who led an uprising against US troops after the 2003 invasion, secured a surprise win in last week's first parliamentary election since Iraq defeated the Islamic State group.

Read more: Is Sadr poised to lift Iraq out of sectarianism?

His Sairoon bloc won 54 seats, 12 more than Abadi's Victory Alliance list. However, while Sadr will have a stong say in negotiations to form the next government, he cannot become prime minister because he did not run in the election.

"Our door is open to anyone as long as they want to build the nation, and that it be an Iraqi decision," Sadr said.

Catch up with our weekly round-up from Iraq
Where Sadr opposes Iranian influence, in second place is the pro-Iranian Conquest Alliance, led by Hadi al-Amiri, made up of ex-fighters from mainly Shia paramilitary units that battled IS. 

Sadr will oversee the formation of a cross-sectarian, technocrat government from some dozen parties. A government should be formed within three months of the official result, but negotiations could drag on for months.

In recent days, Sadr also met with Ammar al-Hakim, whose Hikma Movement trailed in seventh place, as well as with ambassadors from Iraq's neighbouring countries including Saudi Arabia, Iran's main rival in the Middle East.