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Foreign affairs

Shiite militia leader Sadr leads Iraqi election

Iraqi election officials announced on Monday that Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric and militia leader, is the front-runner in the country's national elections.

Sadr's coalition has won a majority of the votes counted in 16 of Iraq's 18 provinces, officials said, and while he was not a candidate and cannot become prime minister, he could end up choosing the next one. Sadr, 44, led an alliance of several groups, including Sunni businessmen and Communists.

During the Iraq War, Sadr was a fierce opponent of U.S. forces in the country, and his followers also clashed with Sunnis in sectarian fighting. Today, he's rebranded himself as a populist outsider who will fight corruption and Iran's interference in Iraqi affairs.