Iraq’s Sadr and Amiri announce political alliance

Iraq: Al-Sadr allies with Fatah to form majority group

Iraq: Al-Sadr allies with Fatah to form majority group

Pro-Iranian militia chief Hadi al-Amiri's bloc won the second most votes in the parliamentary elections, making an alliance with him key to Sadr's effort to form a coalition with enough seats to hold a majority in parliament.

"Fatih and Saeroon announce forming the nucleus of the largest bloc and call on all winning blocs to participate in this alliance under a government programme agreed upon by all that is suitable to face the challenges, crises, and problems facing Iraq", a Fatih spokesman said in a statement.

The move by Sadr, who is opposed to Iranian involvement in the country, is the first serious step towards forming a new government after weeks of negotiations between parties.

Last week, al-Abadi announced that a commission set up by the government to look into alleged irregularities in the vote found "unprecedented" violations and "widespread manipulation" and faulted election authorities.

Final seat totals are still not totally clear, as the parliament has called for a recount, and a fire at a Baghdad ballot warehouse has left that in limbo.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he opposed any repeat of the May 12 parliamentary election, and warned that anyone who tried to sabotage the political process would be punished, after allegations of electoral fraud raised tensions.

"This is a call to all those who care about national interests".

"The matter is exclusively in the hands of the judiciary, not politicians".

An Iraqi court ordered the arrest of four people accused of setting fire to the storage site. "The government and parliament don't have the power to cancel the election", Abadi said of a ballot repeat.

Abadi said a preliminary report had provided evidence of gasoline at multiple areas inside the storage site.

Citing the investigation, he added that those behind the fire had easy access to the facility, as no doors had been broken and security cameras were disabled.

"What happened to the ballot boxes is a awful crime", Sadr said.

Sadr has warned that certain parties are trying to drag Iraq into a civil war.

Abadi thanked Sadr for a disarmament initiative he floated after a weapons cache at his Baghdad stronghold of Sadr City exploded, killing 18 people, and said he hoped the cleric would stick to it.

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