Iraqi security forces guard ballots rescued from a warehouse after fire on June 10. Photo: AP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – An official observing the manual recount of votes in Kirkuk has told Rudaw the number of votes parties achieved according to the electronic count is different to the outcome now emerging.
“The manual recount of just 23 ballot boxes was done [Tuesday] and there is a difference in the number of votes per the manual and electronic count,” the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Rudaw.
“For example, according to the previous count, the PUK had obtained 213 votes in a box, but it fell to just 103 according to the manual recount,” the source said, referring to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.
This is the case with other boxes as well, the source added.
According to the electronic result, the PUK won half the seats in Kirkuk.
Rebwar Taha, a winning PUK candidate in Kirkuk, disputed the emerging result, accusing “militias” of breaking the lock on the boxes at the warehouses and tampering with the ballots prior to the manual count.
On the first day of the manual recount, the barcodes on the boxes were found to be different from those of the electoral commission, he claimed.
Arshad Salihi, head of the Turkmen Front, also made the allegation in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
“Following the opening of the appealed ballot boxes in Kirkuk and digital matching between the barcode and electronic verification, large differences in results are shown,” said Salihi.
The election commission and its officials had called on the government to protect ballot boxes in Kirkuk, saying commission employees and the ballot boxes had been under threat by armed groups, without specifying who.
The manual recount of votes began on Tuesday at the Kirkuk Sports Activities Center. Only ballot boxes from polling centers where allegations of fraud were made are being recounted – numbering 522.
Only Iraq’s state TV has been granted access to the recount. Other media have been denied entry, AFP reports.
On Sunday, a suicide attacker detonated a car bomb outside the gate of a warehouse storing ballots in Kirkuk. None of the ballots were damaged, according to officials.
The parliament ordered a full manual recount of 100 percent of ballots after complaints of electoral fraud in the May 12 vote.
Nine judges were appointed to oversee the process following complaints about the electoral commission. However, the judges ruled the recount will only apply to polling stations subject to complaints by political parties.
The former parliament’s term expired on June 30. A new government cannot be formed until the election results are ratified.
Oil-rich Kirkuk is at the heart of the dispute between Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, with Kurds labeling it the “Jerusalem of Kurdistan”. Peshmerga forces withdrew from the city on October 16.