Vehicles drive near campaign posters of candidates ahead of parliamentary election, in Najaf, Iraq, April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani
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Iraq's Shiites split ahead of crucial pollsUnited in their fight against Saddam Hussein's oppression for decades, Iraq's Shiites have become deeply fragmented and disillusioned with their leaders after 15 years in power. The divisions within the community now risk splitting the Shiite vote in a May 12 election, which could complicate and delay the formation of a government, threaten gains against Daesh (ISIS) and let Iran meddle further in Iraq's politics.In the past, while no party has won enough seats to govern alone, there has typically been one Shiite leader with enough support to shape a ruling coalition government.This time there are three Shiite front-runners: incumbent Haider al-Abadi, who has promoted a more inclusive government; his overtly sectarian predecessor Nouri al-Maliki who failed to inspire unity; and Hadi al-Amiri, a military commander close to Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard seen as a war hero by many.Just an hour away from Najaf in Karbala, the holy city visited by 30 million Shiite pilgrims a year, sharing power with Sunnis and Kurds is not seen as a solution.Basra produces around 3.5 million barrels of oil per day, the vast majority of Iraq's oil wealth equivalent to more than 80 percent of the federal budget.
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