Fire in Iraqi ballot box storage site ahead of recount

Baghdad: A fire broke out in several warehouses in Baghdad used to store ballot boxes from last month’s parliamentary elections, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said on Sunday.

Suspicions of fraud in the May 12 vote led Parliament to call for a recount during an extraordinary session on Wednesday, Efe reported.

The cause of the fire remained unknown, and continued to burn in some of the warehouses belonging to the Supreme Electoral Committee, located in the center of Baghdad, but no further details were available.

Three out of the six buildings were completely burned, which had held ballot boxes as well as electronic devices for vote counting, according to the official.

Firemen and civil defense forces were working to fight the fire.

Over 170 lawmakers had decided to suspend Article 38 of the electoral law, which stipulates that vote counting shall be done electronically, while members of the Supreme Electoral Committee are to be replaced by nine judges to oversee the vote recount.

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.

In the May 12 elections, the coalition led by nationalist populist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr won a surprise victory, earning 54 seats in parliament, while the Al-Fath coalition chaired by Hadi al-Ameri came in second with 47 seats.

The Al-Nasr coalition headed by al-Abadi came third with 37 seats, while the State of Law coalition of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki won 25 and the National Alliance of Ayad Allawi emerged with 21.