Iraq completes election recount

Electoral commission aborts recount of ballots in Baghdad

FILE PHOTO: Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission employee closes a ballot box at a polling station during the parliamentary election in Baghdad, Iraq May 12, 2018. REUTERS/Abdullah Dhiaa al-Deen/File Photo

Iraq has concluded a manual recount of votes from a national poll held in May, with results of the investigation into reported voter fraud expected in days.

The parliament ordered the recount in June after a government report found widespread allegations of voter fraud associated with the newly-implemented electronic vote-counting system.

The Independent High Electoral Commission (Ihec) said on Monday it had "completed the recount" but said that votes in half of the capital would not be recounted. A fire at a warehouse where the votes were stored in June had made the recount impossible to complete, the Iraqi state broadcaster said.

It will not be clear until the results of the investigation are announced whether the recount will affect the number of seats allocated by the May 12 vote, or ongoing negotiations to form a coalition government.

The investigation has been fraught from the start. In June, the Ihec leadership was suspended and replaced with a panel of judges to monitor the process.

The judges then announced that a recount of ballots would "only be carried out in areas where there were complaints of corruption and ballot stuffing".

This included several overseas voting posts and local electoral offices in seven provinces: Kirkuk, Sulaymaniyah, Erbil, Dohuk, Nineveh, Salahuddin and Anbar.


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The uncertainty over the election outcome has fuelled tensions at a time when public impatience is growing over a lack basic services, unemployment and the slow pace of rebuilding after a three-year war with ISIS that cost billions of dollars.
The May 12 election delivered a surprisingly high number of seats for allies of Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, who campaigned as a political outsider against corruption but did not win an outright majority.

Politicians have since been locked in coalition negotiations, which have already dragged on for months.

Iraq has had three parliaments with four-year terms since dictator Saddam Hussein was toppled in the 2003 US-led invasion.