Iraq election commission to recount 300 ballot boxes

Results of October 10 election have been highly contested by Iran-backed political parties

Iraq’s Independent High Election Commission has accepted 26 appeals contesting the results of the national elections held earlier this month, a spokesman told The National on Sunday.

The country’s elections body received 1,436 appeals from political parties and independent candidates, said Emad Jamil Muhsin, a member of the IHEC's media team.

Of those, 816 have been studied by the board of commissioners, with 790 rejected and 26 accepted so far, Mr Muhsin said.

The accepted appeals will lead to the manual recount of more than 300 ballot boxes in the provinces of Baghdad, Salahuddin, Nineveh, Erbil and Basra, he said.

The deadline for complaints was on Tuesday last week, with the rest of the appeals considered over the next few days.

A political group sponsored by the Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, known as the Sadrist bloc, was the clear winner in the elections on October 10, securing 73 seats in the 329-member parliament.

Sunni Parliament Speaker Mohammed Al Halbousi’s Taqadum group won 37 seats, while former prime minister Nouri Al Maliki’s State of Law bloc was third with about 35 seats.

The Iran-backed Fatah Alliance, made up mainly of Shiite militias, won only 14 seats, significantly fewer than the 48 seats it secured in 2018 elections. Independent candidates are expected to control 30 to 50 seats.

Shiite political parties, mainly the Fatah Alliance and State of Law, have rejected the results and demanded recounts of all ballot boxes.

Their supporters have been protesting in Baghdad since last week in the capital's Jadriyah neighbourhood near one of the entrances to the heavily fortified Green Zone, where election commission and government offices are located.

On Saturday night, they moved closer to the Green Zone entrance. In a video posted online, anti-riot police were seen retreating from protesters.

The elections were originally scheduled to be held in May 2022, but were brought forward to October 10 to appease the pro-reform protest in the country, which began in October 2019.

At least 167 parties and more than 3,200 candidates competed for 329 seats. Low turnout of 43 per cent was recorded, down from the 44.5 per cent registered for the previous election in 2018.

Updated: October 24th 2021, 11:03 AM