Iraq election: Fire hits Baghdad recount warehouse

Iraq election: Fire hits Baghdad recount warehouse

Parliament has mandated a manual recount of the election in which a number of parties alleged fraud.

At the weekend, a ballot box storage warehouse in Baghdad was damaged by fire, resulting in the arrest of three police officers and an electoral commission employee.

Firefighters spent hours bringing the blaze in a warehouse in the capital's Al-Russafa neighbourhood under control.

Prime Minister Haider al- Abdadi has described the fire as a "plot" aimed at Iraq's democracy. He said Baghdad will take all necessary measures, and pledged an iron fist policy against those who undermine the country's security.

Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman General Saad Maan confirmed that the fire had destroyed some documents and equipment but civil defense forces were trying to prevent it from spreading to ballot boxes.

The authorities say the ballot boxes were saved and the blaze, whose cause is now under investigation, will not affect the recount.

Outgoing speaker of parliament, Salim al-Jabouri, also said on Sunday the incident proved that the recent parliamentary elections should be repeated.

The parliamentary Iraqi elections on May 12, 2018, ended with a surprise win for Muqtada al-Sadr's "Sairoun" party list, which secured 54 seats out of the 329 that constitute the Iraqi parliament (see Jerusalem Center article May 22, 2018).

BAGHDAD-A storage site housing half of Baghdad's ballot boxes from Iraq's parliamentary election in May caught fire on Sunday, just days after parliament demanded a nationwide recount of votes following allegations of fraud, drawing calls for the election to be re-run.

The interior ministry said no ballot boxes were destroyed in the fire, which engulfed a warehouse containing vote counting machines and other election equipment.

However, the results were published with a great delay (only on May 19) due to allegations of massive fraud within the Kurdish-populated provinces of Kirkuk and Dahuk.

On June 6, the Iraqi Parliament made a decision to freeze the work of the IHEC, assigning nine judges to run the commission to facilitate a manual recount of votes for the entire elections process across Iraq.

Coupled with the historically low turnout of about 45 percent, the allegations of violations cast an unflattering spotlight on the election - Iraq's first since ISIL took over and subsequently lost almost one-third of the country's territory.

On Wednesday Iraq's parliament ordered a manual recount at all polling stations - although no timetable has been announced - and sacked the commission which oversaw the polls.

The election marked the first time Iraqi ballots were counted electronically and not by hand.

But a repeat of the election is unlikely, analysts say, as none of the top parties have endorsed this step, and many incumbent lawmakers have lost their seats and thus lack legitimacy in the eyes of the public.

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