Written by By Yasmine Saleh, CNN
A coalition of opposition parties are leading Iraq’s parliamentary elections, based on official results, after the lowest ever turnout.
So far, the al-Ahrar bloc is leading the polls with about 56 seats in parliament. Meanwhile, the secular alliance led by incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Iran-backed alliance Moqtada al-Sadr are in second place with 31 seats.
State-run Iraqiya, a breakaway Iranian-backed list that includes Abadi, Sunni Arab lawmaker Saleh al-Mutlaq and former prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, stands in third place with 27 seats.
Despite an initial prediction of at least 80% of the electorate casting their vote, initial results showed that turnout was 41.5%. The figure compared unfavorably with the 87% turnout in the last elections in 2014.
Iraq, which has produced some of the largest crude oil reserves in the world, has had an oil-based economy for decades. However, the country has struggled to manage the success of that industry.
Reports of violence and intimidation by armed groups marred the electoral process, particularly in the country’s Sunni Arab strongholds.
During a press conference in Baghdad on Sunday, Iraq’s acting electoral commission chief Munqith al-Hashemi said they needed more time to process over a million rejected ballots.
“Our commission has begun counting the ballots from over a million rejected ballots to complete the voting process, so that the results can be submitted. We’ll continue counting till the last moment,” he said.