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Iraq Ballot Warehouse Fire 'Deliberate': Minister

13 June 2018

The fire took place at a Trade Ministry site in Baghdad where the election commission stored the ballot boxes from al-Rusafa, the half of Baghdad on the eastern side of the Tigris river.

A fire has been brought under control at Iraq's biggest ballot paper storage depot days after an election recount was ordered.

The latest development comes after a warehouse storing ballot papers caught fire, an act described as a "plot" against democracy by Mr Al Abadi. He said Baghdad will take all necessary measures, and pledged an iron fist policy against those who undermine the country's security.

Ministry spokesman Saad Man said firefighters were trying to put out the fire.

But the result was contested following allegations of fraud namely by the veteran politicians led by parliamentary Speaker Salim al-Jabouri.

The parliamentary Iraqi elections on May 12, 2018, ended with a surprise win for Muqtada al-Sadr's "Sairoun" party list, which secured 54 seats out of the 329 that constitute the Iraqi parliament (see Jerusalem Center article May 22, 2018).

The extent of the damage caused to ballot boxes was still unclear but some officials have suggested majority had been spared.

A fire has torn through Iraq's largest ballot warehouse, ahead of a controversial recount prompted by allegations of fraud.

Three of the arrested individuals were policemen and one an employee of the Independent High Elections Commission.

Last month's election saw a record number of abstentions as Iraqis snubbed the corruption-tainted elite who have dominated the country since the 2003 US -led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Facing parliamentary discontent, the Parliament first asked the electoral committee for a recount in several areas and then voted afterwards for the establishment of a panel of judges who would recommend an alternative solution, such as a manual recount of 11 million votes.

In those districts [Shia militia leader Hadi] al-Ameri and Muqtada al-Sadr performed well at the 12 May elections.

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.

Mr Abadi's alliance came third with 42 seats.

"We call for the election to be repeated", added Jabouri, who lost his seat in the election. Two legal experts and an official source at the elections commission confirmed that every vote has been stored electronically. However, it has added to fears that disputes over the elections' result could turn violent, prompting Sadr on Monday to warn about breaking out of a possible "civil war" in the crisis-hit country if growing disputes over the vote are not settled.

"Nothing is known, but there are people who would not want the votes to be recounted because it would prove their fraud or they could loose even more votes", federal intelligence officer Abo Musa said.

Iraq Ballot Warehouse Fire 'Deliberate': Minister