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Iraq voters rebuke PM’s party as rivals surge

BAGHDAD (AFP) – The race to become Iraq’s next prime minister appeared wide open Monday as two outsider alliances looked to be in the lead after the first elections since the defeat of the Islamic State group.

According to partial official results obtained by AFP, the Marching Towards Reform alliance of Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr and his communist allies was ahead in six of Iraq’s 18 provinces and second in four others.

The Conquest Alliance, made up of ex-fighters from mainly Iran-backed paramilitary units that battled the Islamic State group, was ahead in four provinces and second in eight others.

After a vote Saturday that saw a record number of abstentions, the Victory Alliance of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who has been backed by the international community, looked to have won in only one province.

The complex electoral arithmetic of the Iraqi system means that the final makeup of the parliament is still far from decided.

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