Lawmakers have three days to submit their complaints to the electoral commission
Ballot boxes are seen after a fire at a storage site in Baghdad, housing the boxes from Iraq’s May parliamentary election, Iraq June 10, 2018. Reuters
Complaints of fraud and vote rigging prompted a nationwide recount that showed almost no difference from the initial tally. Populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr retained his victory, after his Sairoon (marching forward) bloc kept all of its 54 seats. The cleric is now in a dominant position to form the country’s next government.
The Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) announced Sunday that political parties have three days to appeal the results.
The results will then be ratified by the Supreme Court. Once that is done, the current president, Fuad Masum, has three months to convene parliament to elect a new prime minister, president and speaker and then to form a cabinet.
Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi’s National Alliance bloc described the outcome of the recount as “another disappointment”.
“We are calling for the cancellation of the results, we were the first to call for a boycott because there were clear violations of voter fraud that can no longer be hidden,” the bloc’s spokesman told The National.
In June, parliament had ordered the manual recount in response to concerns about the voting system, which used machines to read ballots digitally linked to each voter’s ID registration card and fingerprint.
Various lawmakers and voters complained of machines breaking down and alleged wide-scale fraud in the initial election results, which triggered protests calling for the recount. Yet, the results remained the same in 13 of the country’s 18 provinces.
The IHEC’s 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.
The results of the recount results were “absurd,” Arshad Al Salehi, head of the Turkmen Front in Kirkuk, told The National.
“There was clear evidence that ballot stuffing took place in Kirkuk. The issue is politicised and those counting had a hidden agenda, it will create further instability to the country,” the lawmaker said.
Although Mr Al Salhi gained four seats in parliament, the lawmaker is adamant that May’s elections were rigged.
“We will appeal the results, we were counting on the judges appointment by the government to ensure that the recount would have been conducted in a fair and accurate way,” he said.
Hoshyar Omar Ali, head of diplomatic relations for the Gorran Movement in Kurdistan, told The National that the recount results are going to create instability across the country.
“This is a cover-up of the massive fraud that happened in May’s elections, it was a disaster by all measures. We will appeal the final results,” Mr Ali said.
Also unchanged was voter turnout, which remained at 44.5 per cent, the lowest participation since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 that toppled former dictator Saddam Hussein.
“We expect a rise in instability because the election saw a low voter turnout and the results do not reflect the will of the voters,” Mr Ali said.
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.
“Iraq is going to become a battleground for regional and international rivalry and the escalating tensions,” Mr Ali said.