Pro-Iran parties secure majority in Iraq’s provincial elections

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Pro-Iran Shia parties won the majority of council seats in most of Iraq’s provinces, the final results from December 18 elections released by the electoral commission showed on Thursday.

The vote was the first held in a decade and took place amid widespread political apathy in the oil-rich country, which is recovering from years of conflict and plagued by corruption.

Polling took place in 15 of Iraq’s 18 provinces, with the three provinces in the autonomous region of Kurdistan due to hold a separate vote next year.

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The provincial councils, set up after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, choose regional governors and manage budgets for health, transport and education.

In nine central and southern provinces, the big winners were either the parties of outgoing governors, or coalitions formed by the pro-Iran parties that dominate parliament.

The vote was seen as a key test for Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, who rose to power just over a year ago, backed by pro-Tehran parties.

It came ahead of a general election due in 2025.

Turnout in the December 18 elections was 41 percent, according to the electoral commission.

Results showed that four alliances dominated the vote in Baghdad, Dhi Qar, Maysan, Basra, Babylon and Wassit provinces.

They included the “Nabni” (We build) alliance led by Hadi al-Ameri, a senior commander of the Hashed al-Shaabi, a network of former paramilitary units now integrated into the regular forces.

Former premier Nuri al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition and the Patriotic forces of the State Coalition, led by Shia cleric Ammar al-Hakim and ex-premier Haider al-Abadi, also did well.

In Baghdad, the State of Law and Nabni dominated, with each taking nine out of 52 seats, followed by the Taqadom party of Mohamed al-Halbussi, the influential Sunni Muslim former speaker of parliament.

Halbussi was victorious in the predominantly Sunni Anbar province in the west of the country.

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