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13 June 2018, 12:47 | Glen Norman
Iraq Ballot Warehouse Fire 'Deliberate'
"The crime of burning ballot box storage warehouses in the Russafa area is a deliberate act, a planned crime, aimed at hiding instances of fraud and manipulation of votes, lying to the Iraqi people and changing their will and choices".
Though Interior Minister Qasim al-Araji said no votes were lost, photographs showing the enormous fire and clouds of thick black smoke suggest the warehouse suffered significant damage.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the blaze was probably part of a plot to sabotage last month's elections.
Numerous legislative election losers - including lawmakers and the outgoing PM Haider al-Abadi, whose coalition faltered in the polls by finishing in third place - are claiming foul play behind the fire the engulfed the warehouse.
The outgoing speaker of the Iraqi parliament has said the election should be repeated as a result of the fire.
"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.
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.
But the election commission is opposing the parliamentary order for a manual recount, and said on Thursday that it would "use its constitutional and legal right to challenge the amendment of the election law (allowing the recount).because it contains a number of irregularities", in a statement carried by S&P Global Platts.
The May 12 elections gave the lead to a coalition led by Shia firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, but a new government has yet to be formed.
He added only the Supreme Court could decide whether to re-run the election, which on Sunday appointed nine judges to supervise a manual vote recount.
The June 11 report said the suspects included three police officers and an employee of Iraq's elections commission.
On June 6, the Iraqi Parliament chose 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.
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In the election, Iraq used an electronic vote-counting system for the first time.
The depot housed ballot boxes from the city's al-Rusafa district.
Meanwhile, Sadr urged Iraqis on Monday to unite rather than squabble over a possible rerun of the election, a message apparently tailored to defuse political tension after Sunday's fire.
The legislature on Wednesday also sacked the nine-member independent commission that oversaw the polls.
The move could undermine nationalist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who's bloc won the largest amount of seats in the elections. He said there were attempts by some to cause a civil war but promised he would not participate in one.
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