Sunday, 24 June, 2018

After ballot box fire, cleric Sadr says Iraqis should unite

Iraqi Shiite militias mark al Quds Day with military march Iraq election: Fire hits Baghdad recount warehouse
Patty Aguilar | 13 June, 2018, 00:49

A fire ripped through Iraq's biggest ballot warehouse on Sunday where votes for the eastern Baghdad district were stored, before a recount ordered by parliament, a security official said.

Baghdad firefighters managed to control the fire that broke out June 10 at the Metropolitan warehouse containing ballots.

According to Al-Jazeera, Prime Minister's comments were the most high-profile indication that the fire in the Iraqi capital was deliberate."Burning election warehouses ... is a plot to harm the nation and its democracy".

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, whose coalition stood third in the recent elections, hassaid that burning of the warehouse was part of a plot to sabotage the country's democratic process. He said Baghdad will take all necessary measures, and pledged an iron fist policy against those who undermine the country's security.

The site was divided into four warehouses, said Interior Ministry spokesman Maj.

On May 19, the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) announced the final results of the parliamentary election, which showed that Sadr-backed al-Sa'iroon Coalition was the front-runner and won 54 seats in the upcoming 329-seat parliament.

Last week, the Iraqi parliament adopted a resolution for a manual recount of votes in the May 12 election, in which Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Sairoon coalition won most seats.

"Election material, including maybe ballot boxes, were burned but most of the ballot boxes were stored in another building and have been preserved", interior ministry spokesperson General Saad Maan said.

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Mr Al Abadi's statement comes as Iraq's United Nations envoy has called for an investigation into allegations of fraud and voter rigging. Some of the re-vote advocates, like the parliament speaker, lost their seats in the election.

Facing parliamentary discontent, the Parliament first asked the electoral committee for a recount in several areas and then voted afterwards for the establishment of a panel of judges who would recommend an alternative solution, such as a manual recount of 11 million votes.

Iraq's election, which saw a surprise victory for nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, has been marred by fraud allegations.

Iraqi authorities said that none of the ballot papers were destroyed in the blaze.

The elections were marred by complaints about the alleged manipulation of the electronic voting system used for the first time in May.

Abadi, whose electoral alliance came third in the election, had said that a government investigation had found serious violations and blamed Iraq's independent elections commission for a lot of them.

The legislature on Wednesday also sacked the nine-member independent commission which oversaw the polls. Abadi's coalition finished third in the polls, behind shock victor Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite cleric who once referred to the U.S.as "the great serpent".

Certain parties are trying to drag Iraq into civil war, Sadr said, adding that he would not participate in one.

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