Fire hits Iraq's biggest ballot warehouse before recount

Fire hits Iraq's biggest ballot warehouse before recount

Security forces carry ballot boxes as smoke rises from a storage site in Baghdad, housing the boxes from Iraq's May parliamentary election, Iraq on June 10, 2018.

A fire has hit Iraq's biggest ballot paper warehouse that was being used to store votes ahead of a recount.

"There is no doubt that it was a deliberate act and I am personally following up on the investigation with the criminal police and the committee tasked with probing the fire", Qassem al-Araji said June 11.

"Burning election a plot to harm the nation and its democracy", Abadi said.

An electoral commission official and a spokesman for the interior ministry suggested Sunday's fire did not damage ballot boxes.

Iraqi authorities said no ballot papers were destroyed in the blaze.

Iraqi Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri, meanwhile, claimed the fire was a "planned crime aimed at hiding cases of manipulation and falsification of votes and deceiving the Iraqi people and changing their will and choice".

A recount would test the number of votes won by Shi'ite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a long-time adversary of US involvement in Iraq whose bloc, consisting of secularists and Communist Party allies, won the largest number of seats in the election.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said on Tuesday that he opposes calls for rerunning the country's May 12 parliamentary elections after a fire erupted at the storage site where the ballot boxes were kept.

However, the results were published with a great delay (only on May 19) due to allegations of massive fraud within the Kurdish-populated provinces of Kirkuk and Dahuk. The blaze comes as the country prepares for a parliamentary election recount. The parliament also ordered the Independent High Elections Commission (IHEC) to manually recount the votes nationwide, suspended the leadership of the commission, and replaced them with nine judges.

The fire occurred on the eve of declared by the Parliament of the recount of votes in the elections, marked by numerous fraud and abuse.

His 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 previous year.

The Baghdad warehouse complex where ballot boxes were stored. Two legal experts and an official source at the elections commission confirmed that every vote has been stored electronically.

The May 12 elections gave the lead to a coalition led by Shia firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, but a new government has yet to be formed. Some parties condemned the measure, saying it was spearheaded by groups of lawmakers who had lost their seats.

The legislature also sacked the nine-member independent commission, which oversaw the polls, last week.

The move could undermine nationalist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who's bloc won the largest amount of seats in the elections.

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