Haider al-Abadi and Muqtada al-Sadr met late Saturday night. Photo: Muqtada al-Sadr’s office
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the winner of the general elections Muqtada al-Sadr held a joint press conference after a meeting late Saturday in which they spoke of their vision for Iraq’s future, signaling that they may work together.
“There was a clear message in this meeting: hoping that your government will be all inclusive,” said Sadr.
Both had run on platforms advocating a non-sectarian, technocratic government.
The new government should be “strong… and provide services and security to the people in the coming four years,” said Abadi.
Abadi acknowledged the problem of high unemployment, especially among youth, and said the issue should be a priority.
“This government should create job opportunities, provide services, and improve the lives of the people. It also has to mainly care about the poor.”
Sadr’s surprise victory has upended Iraq’s political scene – his alliance with communists and secularists topped the polls followed by the Iran-backed Fatih alliance, pushing the ruling Abadi’s list into third place and the influential Dawa party leader Nouri al-Maliki into a distant fourth.
The outspoken cleric did not stand for election himself, but as the leader of the biggest coalition, he is in a position to play kingmaker.
It is widely expected that Abadi will retain his post of prime minister.
Parties have three days to file complaints about the final results that were released early Saturday morning.
Though the vote was tainted by widespread fraud and the election commission has come under fire for its handling of the allegations, Abadi called on everyone to accept the result.
“I call on all political parties to accept these results. I know that there are observations and complaints… I urge the commission to take these complaints into consideration in a proper way,” he said in the press conference.
He said that political parties have to accelerate the process of convening the new parliament so that it can form a government.
After his meeting with Abadi, Sadr tweeted: "We are still advocates of unity and peace… We are still advocates of brotherhood between sects and religions, trends and ideas, as well as one religion, one doctrine, we are all Iraqis."