Iraq's Sadr warns of civil war after ballot box fire

13 June, 2018, 00:46 | Author: Wade Massey
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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.

Before the parliament had acted the electoral commission said it was voiding 1,021 ballot boxes from around the country, along with votes cast by Iraqis overseas and Iraqis still living in displacement camps that were set up during the battles against ISIL.

The controversy over Iraq's parliamentary election results has deepened further after burning of a warehouse where ballot boxes were kept in Baghdad on Sunday.

The latest development comes after a warehouse storing ballot papers caught fire, an act described as a "plot" against democracy by Mr Al Abadi.

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

"I can tell you all the boxes and papers have burned", Mohammed al-Rabeei, a Baghdad province council member, told Al Jazeera.

Meanwhile, following the incident at the storage site housing ballot boxes in Baghdad, Iraq's outgoing parliament speaker, Salim al-Jabouri, said later on Sunday that the country's parliamentary election should be repeated.

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

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"It is not an ideal situation for Iran and they might support a redo, but actually a recount might implicate them if the allegations in the north are correct".

Three of the suspects are policemen and the fourth is an employee of the Independent High Elections Commission, state television said on Monday.

The election, which was the first since the defeat of ISIS terrorists who seized a third of Iraq in 2014, raised hopes that Iraqis could put aside sectarian divisions to rebuild.

Abadi's government on Tuesday said an investigation found serious violations and blamed the elections commission for a lot of them.

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. However, it has added to fears that disputes over the elections' result could turn violent, prompting Sadr on Monday to warn about breaking out of a possible "civil war" in the crisis-hit country if growing disputes over the vote are not settled.

"Is it not time to stand in one row for building and reconstruction instead of burning the ballot boxes or repeat elections just for one or two seats?"

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

Opponents of the recount, mostly those whose blocs did well in the election, point out that many who voted for it were lawmakers who lost their seat.

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