Published: Mon, June 11, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

Ballot Box Storage Site Catches Fire In Baghdad

A fire tore through one of Baghdad's main ballot storage sites on Sunday, days after parliament ordered a manual recount of the May 12 vote.

An interior ministry spokesman told the Reuters news agency that the blaze had destroyed some documents and equipment, but efforts were being made to stop it from affecting ballot boxes.

"Burning election a plot to harm the nation and its democracy". He said Baghdad will take all necessary measures, and pledged an iron fist policy against those who undermine the country's security.

A column of dark smoke was seen rising above the Al-Russafa district of Baghdad, where around 60% of the capital's two million eligible voters are believed to have cast their ballots in May.

"Election material, including maybe ballot boxes, were burned but most of the ballot boxes were stored in another building and have been preserved", Maan told reporters.

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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.

Earlier on Sunday, the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council named the judges who will take over the independent electoral commission to carry out the manual recount of last month's elections as per the parliament's recommendation, according to a statement.

Abadi, whose electoral alliance came third in the election, had said on Tuesday that a government investigation had found serious violations and blamed Iraq's independent elections commission for a lot of them.

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

The recount was ordered by parliament on Wednesday at all polling stations, although no timetable has been announced.

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The Independent High Elections Commission had used electronic vote- counting devices to tally the results.

Opponents of the recount have pointed out that many of those who voted for it lost seats in the election. 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. He said it was one of four storage facilities for ballots on the site, belonging to Iraq's Trade Ministry, and that the three depots with the majority of returns had been spared.

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 the Islamic State.

The electoral commission said it would appeal the decision.

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