Iraq ballot boxes storage set ablaze amid cllas of a re-run

Smoke rises from a storage site in Baghdad, housing ballot boxes from Iraq’s May parliamentary election, Iraq June 10, 2018. REUTERS/Khalid al-Mousily

A storage site housing half of Baghdad’s ballot boxes from Iraq’s parliamentary election in May has caught fire, Reuters reported.

This came just days after parliament demanded a nationwide recount of votes, drawing calls for the election to be re-run.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said later the fire was confined to one of four warehouses at the site. State television said the ballot boxes were being moved to another location under heavy security, according to Reuters.

Reuters added that authorities did not say whether they believed the fire was deliberately set, but its timing undermined the results of an election whose validity was already in doubt. Fewer than 45 percent of voters cast a ballot, a record low, and allegations of fraud began almost immediately after the vote.

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

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

A recount could undermine nationalist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a long-time adversary of the United States whose bloc won the largest number of seats in the election. One of Sadr’s top aides expressed concern that some parties were trying to sabotage the cleric’s victory.

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