Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Fire in Iraqi ballot box storage site ahead of recount

Iraq election: Fire hits Baghdad recount warehouse Fire engulfs warehouse storing Iraq election ballots in latest setback for troubled vote
Steven Clarke | 13 June, 2018, 00:45

On Sunday, only days after the parliament demanded a nationwide manual recount of votes amid allegations of mass rigging, a blaze gutted one of four warehouses that belonged to the electoral commission.

An Iraqi court has ordered the arrest of four people accused of setting fire to a storage site housing ballot boxes from a May parliamentary election, state media said.

The cause of the fire is unknown, he said, and will be investigated once the blaze is contained by the nine teams of firefighters at the scene in the Rasafa district of Baghdad.

"Burning election warehouses.is a plot to harm the nation and its democracy", Abadi said.

"We will take all necessary measures and strike with an iron fist all who undermine the security of the nation and its citizens", he added.

Salim al-Jubouri, the outgoing speaker of parliament, who lost his seat in the election, called for an entire re-do of the vote because of the fire.

The vote was won by populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr's electoral alliance with communists, as long-time political figures were pushed out by Iraqi voters hoping for change in a country mired in conflict and corruption.

But the old guard, dumped by Iraqi voters, have clamoured for a recount.

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Many Iraqi parties, especially in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan and the disputed areas, including Kirkuk province, have complained about alleged irregularities and forgery in the parliamentary election.

"The Supreme Judicial Council's meeting saw the naming of the judges nominated to take over the duties of the board of commissioners of the Independent High Elections Commission", Judge Abdul-Sattar al-Birqdar said in a statement.

The Iraqi parliament amended election law on June 6, 2018, allowing for the manual recount of more than 10 million votes. He was quoted saying, "The criminals manipulated the results of the elections because they know that the results that were announced are not true, so they burned the ballot boxes.This crime is not an ordinary crime and not a passing incident, but a major crime and a great betrayal of the country".

A fire at a warehouse in Iraq's capital has threatened boxes of ballots from last month's democratic elections, officials said.

"Nothing is known, but there are people who would not want the votes to be recounted because it would prove their fraud or they could loose even more votes", federal intelligence officer Abo Musa said.

Over 170 lawmakers had made a decision to suspend Article 38 of the electoral law, which stipulates that vote counting shall be done electronically, while members of the Supreme Electoral Committee are to be replaced by nine judges to oversee the vote recount.

Election victor Sadr on Monday called on Iraqis to unite rather than fight over the recount in a message aimed at unity following the fire.

Abadi's bloc came in third in the election, which was marked by low turnout.

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