Shafaq News/ Leading Shia parties in Iraq have announced their collective rejection of the results in Sunday's parliamentary elections, after the initial evidence appeared to suggest a collapse in their vote share.
Al-Fatah alliance, which is composed of supporters of the country's al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces-PMF), in particular denounced the results as "fabricated" while one armed faction appeared to threaten violent action in response.
According to initial results released by the Iraqi High Electoral Commission (IHEC), the Sadrist movement led by the populist cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, came out ahead with 73 of the parliament's 329 seats, in what had been an election with a record low turnout of 41%.
In a statement on Tuesday, Hadi al-Ameri, leader of al-Fatah, called for a joint response against the election results from other Shia political factions.
"We do not accept these fabricated results, whatever the cost, and we will defend the votes of our candidates and voters with full force," said his office.
Al-Fatah saw its share of the seats in parliament, where it had previously been the second largest party, decline sharply from 48 to 14 seats.
Seperately, a spokesperson for Kataib Hezbollah, an armed Iran-backed group labelled a terrorist organisation by the US, called for their supporters to oppose the results and warned they would "stand firmly and insist to restore things to their rightful place".
Kataib Hezbollah'z Huquq party has won one seat.
"The brothers in the Iraqi resistance should prepare for a sensitive stage that requires wisdom and close observation from us," said spokesperson Abu Ali Al-Askar, using a term that refers to groups opposed to US and Israeli influence in the region.
"Be sure that no right will be lost behind it, so do not tire, do not get bored, and do not compromise, and victory will be your ally with the help of Almighty God."
A number of other Shia political parties also faced a steep decline in their vote share, leading to complaints of irregularities.
The political bloc led by former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and cleric Ammar al-Hakim also co-signed a statement with a number of Shia political parties rejecting the election results and warning that they would "take all available measures to prevent the manipulation of votes".
Late on Monday evening, a meeting was held at the home of former prime minister and leader of the State of Law bloc Nouri al-Maliki, which was attended by most of the leaders of the Shia political forces and the leaders of the Iran-backed armed factions, where they discussed how to respond to what they deemed a "coup" by Sadr, backed by a "British-American plot".
Reports emerged about an intention to "escalate" the situation so that al-Sadr and Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi understant that "what happened will not pass without consequences".
"Some leaders suggested that we proceed with the legal procedures and focus on the options available to form a bloc larger than Muqtada's bloc, and some of them insisted that the security escalation is the best option at this stage," a leader of an armed faction said.
"Kataib Hezbollah insist on resorting to military options, but others have reservations about this option and the majority of them do not support it."