Fire breaks out at May 12 election ballot box warehouse in Baghdad

11 June, 2018, 01:35 | Author: Myra Gill
  • Sadr Media Office Shia cleric Muqtada al Sadr greets Ammar al Hakim on his arrival for a meeting in Baghdad Iraq

A storage site housing half of Baghdad's ballot boxes from Iraq's parliamentary election in May has caught fire, just days after parliament demanded a nationwide recount of votes, drawing calls for the election to be re-run.

However, Baghdad province council member Mohamed al-Rabeei told Reuters that "all the boxes and papers have burned".

The victory came on the back of an election campaign of opposing foreign interference in Iraq, as well as promising to rebuild schools and hospitals - which were heavily damaged in the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, known as ISIS) group past year.

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.

The recount was approved by parliament a day after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said there had been serious violations and that most of the blame laid with the elections commission.

Kazem al-Shammari, a spokesman for the Sunni Wataniya alliance, which won 21 seats, was quoted as saying by al-Araby al-Jadeed that "there was no such incident in all previous election cycles, and the fire coincides with the decision to manually re-count the ballot boxes". However, he explained that it is possible ballot boxes were destroyed.

The blaze comes as the country prepares for a parliamentary election recount.

Interior Ministry spokesperson Major General Saad Maan said Sunday that the fire has been brought under control.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, whose electoral alliance came third in the election, said on Tuesday that a government investigation had found serious violations and blamed Iraq's independent elections commission for majority.


Earlier on Sunday, the Supreme Judicial Council, Iraq's highest judicial authority, named judges tasked with taking over the country's elections commission after allegations of widespread electoral violations in the May elections.

"The crime of burning ballot box storage warehouses in the Rusafa 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", Jabouri said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear how the damage would affect the results of the election, which have been called into question amid persistent claims of significant irregularities and mismanagement.

He said the main issue was with the electronic vote-counting machines that were used for the first time on 12 May.

Mr Sadr's nationalist grouping formed an alliance with a number of secular parties.

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 the Islamic State took over and subsequently lost almost one-third of the country's territory.

Last week, Iraq's parliament voted to dismiss the commissioners and replace them with judges while calling for a full hand recount of about 11 million votes.

But the result was contested following allegations of fraud namely by the veteran politicians, including parliamentary speaker Salim al-Juburi.

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