After winning the largest number of seats in this weekend's early parliamentary elections, Shia Iraqi cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr warned against external interference in the formation of the new government, Anadolu reported yesterday.
Sadr's bloc won 73 seats in the 329-member parliament, according to initial results, followed by the Taqaddoum bloc of Parliament Speaker Mohamed Al-Halbousi with 38 seats and the State of Law bloc led by former Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki came with 37 seats.
Al-Sadr sent a message of reassurance to the US Embassy in Baghdad, saying: "All embassies are welcome unless they interfere in Iraqi affairs and the formation of the government." The US embassy in Baghdad has been subjected to repeated rocket attacks for months and Washington holds Shia armed factions close to Tehran responsible for these attacks.
According to Anadolu, Al-Sadr warned that "any intervention will have a diplomatic response, and perhaps a popular one. Iraq is for the Iraqis only, and we will not allow the intervention at all."
"Weapons must be confined to the hands of the state and the use of weapons outside this scope is prohibited. It is time for the people to live in peace, without occupation or terrorism."
The final results are expected to be announced in two weeks. A coalition is likely to be formed as a government requires the support of at least 165 deputies.
In the 2018 elections, the Sadr-backed Sairoon alliance won 54 seats.
The polls saw a low turnout of only 41 per cent, according to the election commission, the lowest since 2005.