Nationalist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr led in Iraq’s parliamentary election with more than half the votes counted on Monday.
In the first election since Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) was defeated in the country, Shiite militia chief Hadi al-Amiri’s bloc, which is backed by Iran, was in second place.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, once seen as the front-runner, trailed in third position, Reuters reports.
The preliminary results were based on a count of more than 95 percent of the votes cast in 10 of Iraq’s 18 provinces.
While Abadi is a rare ally of both the US and Iran, Sadr has led two uprisings against US forces and is one of the few Shiite leaders to distance himself from Iran.
Despite the election setback, Abadi might still be granted a second term in office by parliament and on Monday he suggested he was willing to work with Sadr to form a government.