Iraq prime minister wins vote in Mosul province

Moqtada al-Sadr poised for victory in Iraqi election

Moqtada al-Sadr poised for victory in Iraqi election

The front-runner in Iraqi elections, the populist Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, wasted little time trying to prove to potential allies that he is serious about shaking up the government and cleaning up corruption as he worked to cobble together a governing coalition.

Since he did not run for a seat, he will not be eligible for the role.

Abadi - who came to power in 2014 as IS rampaged across Iraq - has balanced off the USA and Iran during his time at the helm.

Only 44.52 percent of about 24 million people eligible to vote participated in the consultation, a decrease of 15 percentage points, compared to 2014.

With more than half the votes counted, firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who is leading a coalition of groups including his own Istiqama (Integrity) party as well as secularist and communist candidates, has taken a clear lead.

The elections commission has announced results from 16 of Iraq's 19 provinces. By the end of the announcement, al-Sadr's list had the highest popular vote, followed by al-Amiri's.

It may be Abadi, Reuters reports, who has signaled a willingness to work with Sadr to form a working government.

But after 14 years, more than $1 trillion, millions of Iraqi dead and thousands of USA troops killed and maimed, the US now has less influence over Iraq than it had while former Central Intelligence Agency operative Saddam Hussein was in power.

Winning the largest number of seats does not automatically guarantee that Sadr will be able to hand-pick a prime minister.

At elections in 2010, the Iraqi National Movement of Ayad Allawi - loathed by Iran - scooped 91 seats to become the biggest group in parliament.

Political sources told AFP that two meetings have been held under Iranian guidance to bring together several political blocs.