Iraq ballot warehouse hit by blaze as country prepares for recount

Clay Curtis
June 11, 2018

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

Meanwhile, Iraq's Independent Higher Election Commission has announced that all the ballot boxes in the warehouse are safe.

A fire broke out at a warehouse in Baghdad where the May 12 election ballot boxes are being kept.

Interior Minister Qasim al-Araji later told a local television channel that "not a single box was burned".

"The ballot boxes were stored in another room", he said, adding that the fire would not affect the recount.

Confusion has gripped Iraq since the vote won by Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's electoral alliance with the Iraqi Communist Party, even with negotiations to form a new government underway.

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

The political system is created to ensure that no one person or party can dominate, which leads to post-election discussions, a move that has not been interrupted by parliament's decision to recount.

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.

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Opponents of the recount have pointed out that many of those who voted for it lost seats in the election. Sadr's bloc boycotted the parliamentary session in which the vote took place. The Fatah (Conquest) alliance, led by Badr Organization Secretary General Hadi al-Ameri, and Abadi's Nasr (Victory) coalition finished second and third with 47 and 42 seats, respectively. The election should be re-run, he said.

Sadr's move, while unable to generate a majority in the 329 seat parliament, emboldens the party by almost 100 seats. Gen. Saad Maan. Only one, housing electronic equipment and documents, had burnt down.

Firefighters stopped the fire from spreading to the remaining three warehouses, where the ballot boxes are stored, he said.

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

The ballot boxes are needed for a manual recount of votes, mandated in a law passed by the Iraqi parliament on Wednesday.

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.

An official statement said a recent cabinet meeting chaired by the premier had named the Iraqi anti-graft chief as the head of the commission.

"There are some papers and equipment of the commision burning in the storehouse that has caught fire", Maan said, according to Rudaw.

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