Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, right, and Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr hold a press conference in the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq, early Sunday, May 20, 2018. Abadi, whose Victory alliance came a third in the country's elections, said he was urging all parties to accept the results of the election and the high electoral commission to investigate complaints of misconduct. Al-Sadr, the leader of the winning alliance, said he was going to work with all parties towards an inclusive government, promising reform and prosperity. (Iraqi Government via AP)

PV International Desk : Iraq’s Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced on Saturday a political coalition amid talks to form a new government after national elections last month.

Al-Sadr’s political bloc won the largest share of seats in May parliamentary elections. He has already joined in a coalition with the second-place bloc led by Hadi al-Amiri, a Shiite militia leader who enjoys the support of Iran. Al-Abadi’s bloc came in third in the polls.

Al-Sadr, a populist cleric who led a militia during the insurgency against American forces, promised voters he would form a technocratic government that would transcend the sectarian politics that have plagued the country since the 2003 U.S. invasion.

But the twin coalitions with al-Amiri and al-Abadi, who is also a Shiite leader, point to a return to a grand Shiite coalition, under the sway of regional power Iran.

Al-Sadr and al-Abadi announced their new alignment at a press conference Saturday, without making explicit mention of the coalition with al-Amiri. But al-Abadi said the coalition with al-Sadr was “in harmony” with existing alignments.

Both al-Abadi and al-Amiri are said to be eyeing the position of prime minister in a new government. Al-Sadr, who is not a member of Parliament, is not pursuing the top post.

Talks to form a new government are expected to continue for weeks or months.