News ID: 216540
Published: 0234 GMT June 11, 2018

Iraqi PM: Burning of ballot-box storage site a plot

Iraqi PM: Burning of ballot-box storage site a plot

Smoke rises from a storage site in Baghdad, housing ballot boxes from Iraq's May parliamentary elections, Iraq, on June 10, 2018.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Sunday that the burning of a storage site in Baghdad where ballot boxes were kept was part of a plot to harm Iraq’s democratic process, the first government indication the incident was deliberate.

“Burning election warehouses ... is a plot to harm the nation and its democracy. We will take all necessary measures and strike with an iron fist all who undermine the security of the nation and its citizens,” Abadi said in a statement, Reuters reported.

Abadi, whose electoral alliance came third in the election, had said that a government investigation had found serious violations and blamed Iraq’s independent elections commission for most of them.

A fire ripped through Iraq's biggest ballot warehouse on Sunday ahead of a vote recount prompted by allegations of fraud during legislative elections that saw a surprise victory for a cleric.

A senior security official, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, said the fire broke out in a warehouse located in Al-Russafa, one of the largest voting districts in eastern Baghdad.

Iraq's election, held on May 12, was won by a coalition led by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Sadr called on Iraqis on Monday to unite instead of burning ballot boxes and seeking to repeat the election.

“Stop fighting for seats, posts, gains, influence, power, and rulership,” he wrote in an article published by his office, a day after a storage site housing half of Baghdad’s ballot boxes from the election caught fire.

Sadr, a longtime adversary of the United States, scored a surprise victory in the election.

“Is it not time to stand as one for building and reconstruction instead of burning ballot boxes or repeating elections just for one seat or two?,” Sadr wrote.

“Is it not time to disarm and hand over weapons to the state instead of storing it in mosques so that it explodes and kills the innocent?”

The election was the first since the defeat of the Dash terrorist group raised hopes that Iraqis could put aside their communal and sectarian divisions and reconstruct the country.

Parliament has mandated a full manual recount. The Independent High Elections Commission had used electronic vote-counting devices to tally the results.


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