Iraqi PM Abadi condemns arson at election warehouse

Iraqi PM Abadi condemns arson at election warehouse

Iraqi PM Abadi condemns arson at election warehouse

Iraq's interior minister says the June 10 fire that destroyed the Baghdad warehouse where votes from May's legislative elections were stored ahead of a recount was started "deliberately".

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday that serious violations occurred in Iraq's parliamentary elections after multiple complaints were received about the tallying of votes and the possible falsification of ballots.

The latest development comes after a warehouse storing ballot papers caught fire, an act described as a "plot" against democracy by Mr Al Abadi.

However, an interior ministry spokesman Major General SaadMaansaid that the fire had destroyed some documents and equipment but first responders on the site were trying to prevent it from spreading to ballot boxes.The warehouse is one of four at the site and contained documents and electronic equipment.

Authorities said the ballot boxes were saved, but a member of Baghdad's provincial council said that "all the boxes and papers have burned".

But the result was contested following allegations of fraud namely by the veteran politicians, including parliamentary speaker Salim al-Juburi.

In a shock result, the Sairoon coalition of Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr came first in last month's vote, winning 54 out of 328 seats.

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The fire erupted as nine judges were appointed to supervise a manual vote recount ordered by Iraq's outgoing parliament. "Iraq is my concern, positions for me do not mean much", Sadr further said in the statement, urging the Iraqi nation not to pursue a recount.

But the election commission is opposing the parliamentary order for a manual recount, and said on Thursday that it would "use its constitutional and legal right to challenge the amendment of the election law (allowing the recount).because it contains a number of irregularities", in a statement carried by S&P Global Platts. Three of them were policemen and one an employee of the Independent High Elections Commission.

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.

"We call for the election to be repeated", he said.

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.

Less than half of Iraq's 24-million electorate took part, dumping the old guard in favor of Sadr's alliance followed by a list of former fighters of the Hashed al-Shaabi alliance that past year played a key role in the defeat of the Daesh terror group. He said there were attempts by some to cause a civil war but promised he would not participate in one.

Earlier in the day, top aide to Sadr, Dhiaa al-Asadi, said the blaze had been a plot aimed at forcing a repeat of the election and hiding fraud. Some parties condemned the measure, saying it was spearheaded by groups of lawmakers who had lost their seats.

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