Iraqi ballot box storage site catches fire in Baghdad

11 June, 2018, 07:49 | Author: Wade Massey

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

In Iraq, a storage site housing ballot boxes from the May parliamentary election has caught fire in the capital.

Iraq is set to stage a recount after last month's parliamentary election.

A thick cloud of black smoke billowed in the background as Maan showed the complex, which contains a number of smaller warehouses. However, he explained that it is possible ballot boxes were destroyed.

The fire broke out on the same day a panel of judges had been formed to officially take over the election recount from the ostensibly autonomous Independent High Electoral Commission, the body that administered the vote and had since come under intense criticism for its performance.

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.

It is this old guard clamouring for a recount: the outgoing parliament also voted to annul ballots of displaced Iraqis and sacked the nine-member independent commission that oversaw the vote. Earlier on Sunday, the Supreme Judicial Council, Iraq's highest judicial authority, named the judges who will take over replace the commissioners.

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However, any attempt to manipulate the election recount is likely to have failed, experts told Arab News. Fewer than 45 percent of voters cast a ballot, a record low, and allegations of fraud began nearly immediately after the vote.

The election, the first held since the government declared victory over IS in December, saw a turnout of 44.5% - much lower than in previous polls.

The Saeroon Alliance led by al-Sadr, the Shia who many USA military officials hold responsible for the deaths of U.S. troops, won by taking the most number of seats.

But the results have been marred by lingering allegations of voter fraud.

In the days after the election, reports of fraud began to emerge primarily from the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, while voters nationwide complained about difficulties using the electronic voting machines that were being used for the first time.

Iraq's parliament speaker, Salim al-Jabouri, has since called for an election rerun in the wake of the fire.

Iraq's prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, whose ticket had placed third in the May 12 election, approved the move for the recount by the lawmakers saying the election commission was to blame for what he described as widespread irregularities.

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