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Four Detained over Fire in Iraq’s Ballot Box Warehouse

Tuesday 12 June 2018
Four Detained over Fire in Iraq’s Ballot Box Warehouse

Alwaght- Four people have been detained in Iraq over accusations of torching a warehouse holding ballot boxes form the country's recent parliamentary election.

On Monday, Iraqi state television announced that three of the suspects are members of the country's police force while the other is an employee of the Independent High Elections Commission.

On Sunday, the storage site housing ballot boxes from Iraq’s May parliamentary elections caught fire ahead of a recount.

Following the blaze, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced that the torching of a storage site was part of a plot to damage Iraq's democratic process.

Outgoing speaker of parliament Salim al-Jabour said the incident proves that the recent parliamentary elections should be repeated.

"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," he said in a statement.

Top aide to nationalist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr Dhiaa al-Asadi said the fire was a plot aimed at forcing a repeat of the election and hiding fraud.

"Whoever burned the election equipment and document storage site had two goals: either cancelling the election or destroying the stuffed ballots counted amongst the results," he tweeted.

On Wednesday, the Iraqi parliament has voted in favor of a manual recount of votes in the country's May 12 parliamentary elections.  

The announcement came a few days after Abadi ordered the creation of a high-powered commission to look into the alleged irregularities in the parliamentary elections.

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.

The statement further suggested that hackers may have manipulated the election results.

Meanwhile,  Iraqi cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, whose coalition won the largest number of seats in the country's recent parliamentary elections, has rejected calls for an election rerun, warning Iraqis about breaking out of a possible “civil war.” 

"Stop fighting for seats, posts, gains, influence, power, and rulership,” the 44-year-old cleric addressed the entire Iraqi nation in a statement published by his office on Monday, adding, “Is it now time to stand as one for building and reconstruction instead of burning ballot boxes or repeating elections just for one seat or two?”

Sadr's Sairoon bloc won 54 out of 329 seats in the Iraqi parliament. 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.

Over 7,000 candidates contested the 329 seats in the parliament that will choose a new president, prime minister and government in Iraq.

This is the fourth such polls since the 2003 US invasion that led to a sharp rise in sectarian tensions and ensuing terror-related violence in the Arab country.

The next prime minister will face the huge task of rebuilding a country shattered by the war against Daesh and the US invasion.

 

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Iraq Election Vote Box Warehouse

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