Iraqi parliament approves partial recounting of votes over ‘fraud’

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Baghdad, May 29 (IANS) The Iraqi parliament on Monday approved manual recounting of 10 per cent of votes in the May 12 parliamentary election amid allegations of fraud, forgery and irregularities.

With the attendance of 165 lawmakers at the emergency session, the parliament passed a draft bill to recount 10 percent of the votes, Xinhua reported.

And if one quarter of the 10-percent votes are found with irregularity, the recounting would be carried out for all the votes across the country, said a statement of the parliament.

The decision will also cancel the votes of the polling centres outside Iraq if irregularities were found, as well as the results of the “conditional voting” in the refugee camps, according to the statement.

The “conditional voters” refer to those who showed any IDs to prove their Iraqi citizenship instead of valid voting cards.

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In addition, recounting of the votes at the polling stations in the ethnically-mixed city of Kirkuk will be held, as well as for some polling stations that were already cancelled by the electoral commission in the disputed areas claimed by both Baghdad central government and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

On May 19, the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) announced the final results of the parliamentary election, which showed that the al-Sa’iroon Coalition, led by Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, was the front-runner by winning 54 of the 329 parliament seats.

The al-Fath Coalition, led by Hadi al-Ameri, came in the second place with 47 seats, while the al-Nasr Coalition, led by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, came in third with 42 seats. The State of Law Coalition, headed by Vice President and former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, garnered 25 seats.

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Many Iraqi parties, especially in the Kurdistan region and the disputed areas including Kirkuk province, have complained about irregularities and forgery in the parliamentary election.

The complaints put the electoral commission under pressure, as it has not carried out manual recounting of many ballot boxes and depended only on the electronic counting of the votes.

Earlier, Riyadh al-Badran, head of the electoral commission, told a press conference “there is no justification for a manual recount yet,” despite many complaints about voter fraud.

On May 17, UN Special Envoy to Iraq Jan Kubis issued a statement, calling on the IHEC to carry out an immediate and thorough investigation into all complaints concerning the election.

The Iraqi parliament also called on May 19 for measures to instill confidence in the election process after receiving complaints from political entities about alleged irregularities.

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On May 24, the Iraqi Council of Ministers (cabinet) met with top judicial and intelligence officials and the IHEC’s security committee to discuss immunity of the electronic devices used in casting and counting the votes for the first time in the Iraqi election, a government statement said.

The cabinet appointed a special committee to investigate the allegations, whose results would be handed to the council of ministers, high judicial council and the federal court, according to the statement.

On May 12, Iraq held the first parliamentary election since defeating the Islamic State (IS) militant group in last December.



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