Friday, 24 May, 2019

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

Iraq election: Fire hits Baghdad recount warehouse Iraq's Sadr forms alliance ahead of electoral probe
Deanna Wagner | 11 June, 2018, 07:49

Experts would conduct an investigation and prepare a detailed report on how the fire started, he said.

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.

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

"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.

On Wednesday Iraq's parliament ordered a manual recount at all polling stations - although no timetable has been announced - and sacked the commission which oversaw the polls. The law called for the Independent High Elections Commission's leadership to be replaced by nine judges.

Al-Sadr, who in 2008 was named as one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people, campaigned on an anti-corruption platform, allied himself with the Communist Party and rode a wave of populist sentiment to victory.

Iraq's parliament speaker, Salim al-Jabouri, has since called for an election rerun in the wake of the fire.

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Jabouri narrowly lost his seat in May and had been one of the strongest proponents of a recount before the fire. Sadr's bloc boycotted the parliamentary session in which the vote took place.

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

Mohamed al-Rabeei, a member of the Baghdad province council, said, "The storage spaces housing all the ballot boxes from Russafa belonging to the election commission are now on fire".

Sadr's move, while unable to generate a majority in the 329 seat parliament, emboldens the party by almost 100 seats.

"The Supreme Judicial Council's meeting saw the naming of the judges nominated to take over the duties of the board of commissioners of the Independent High Elections Commission", Judge Abdul-Sattar al-Birqdar said in a statement.

Iraq's prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, whose ticket had placed third in the May 12 election, approved the move for the recount by the lawmakers saying the election commission was to blame for what he described as widespread irregularities. "The majority of the ballot boxes have been kept in the other three storehouses where the fire has not traveled".

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