UN envoy to Iraq meets Shia cleric Sadr amid election results crisis
The UN’s special envoy to Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, met Tuesday with Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, as post-election chaos continues to plague the country with pro-Iranian factions refusing to accept defeat.
Plasschaert's visit to the southern province of Najaf, where she spoke with the Sadrist movement leader, came ahead of a planned meeting between Iran-backed groups to discuss the election results.
The Sadrist movement was the most successful party in the Iraqi elections, which has been contested by the Iranian-backed Fatah Alliance.
The Dutch envoy has previously said that the elections were generally transparent.
Her comments have faced backlash from Tehran-backed militias and their allied political parties, who have accused her of "meddling" in Iraqi affairs.
An official from the Sadr movement, Riyadh Al-Masoudi, said Plasschaert's visit was to discuss the new government formation in Iraq and Al-Sadr's viewpoint on the matter, to relay to the UN the latest developments.
"There are international efforts aimed at persuading everyone in Iraq to accept the election results and speed up the formation of a new cabinet in order to spare the country more risks and danger," political sources told The New Arab's Arabic sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
The Sadrist movement won 73 seats in the October polls, short of an absolute majority in the fragmented 329-seat legislature, so parties will have to form alliances.
Sadr, who has previously had an ambivalent relationship with Iran, took an Iraqi nationalist line in the run-up to the elections.
By contrast, the Fatah Alliance, which is linked to pro-Iran militias that make up the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), only won 14 seats according to the initial results.
The militias refused to accept the election results, holding protests and threatening members of the election commission while parties allied with them launched legal challenges.
The crisis has resulted in some violence.