Iraq's Sadr forms alliance ahead of electoral probe
Iraqi cleric-turned-politician Muqtada al-Sadr is looking to strengthen his party's position in parliament, by forming an alliance with two other lists.
A coalition agreement was reached between Shia Ammar al-Hakim's al-Hikma list and Iyad Allawi's Sunni-majority list on Friday.
The move comes following parliament's vote on Wednesday, which called for a manual recount of last month's federal election, the cancellation of expatriates' votes, and the sacking of the electoral commission.
It comes amid mounting fraud allegations surrounding the 12 May elections, when Sadr was announced the surprise winner of the vote.
Sadr's move, while unable to generate a majority in the 329 seat parliament, emboldens the party by nearly 100 seats.
The political system is designed to ensure that no one person or party can dominate, which leads to post-election discussions, a move that has not been interrupted by parliament's decision to recount.
Confusion has gripped Iraq since the vote won by Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's electoral alliance with the Iraqi Communist Party, even with negotiations to form a new government underway.
Since last month's victory of anti-establishment electoral lists, long-time political figures pushed out by Iraqi voters hoping for change have been calling for a recount.
According to intelligence services, tests of electronic voting machines - used for the first time in Iraqi elections - produced varied results, appearing to give credence to the fraud claims.
Outgoing MP Mishaan al-Juburi claimed that while he was in Damascus he saw, "the head of the electoral commission for (expats in) Syria and Jordan selling a political leader 12,000 votes of Iraqi expatriates in Syria and 4,000 votes in another country".
Juburi has similarly denounced alleged fraud in Amman, where he ran an intense campaign and only won a mere 19 votes.
"I have the impression that there is a clear conspiracy against me."
Iran-backed parliamentary rivals could nullify Sadr, who has called for his country to be more independent from both Iran and the US.
When initial results were announced, influential Iranian General Qassem Soleimani came to Baghdad in a bid to rally rival Shia factions against Sadr.