ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A fire tore through one of the Iraqi electoral commission’s storehouses in Baghdad on Sunday where ballots cast in the May 12 election were being held. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi described the fire as “a plot against Iraq.”
He commanded security forces across Iraqi provinces to take “tough” measures to prevent similar incidents against ballot boxes.
“We have seen ballot boxes burning,” said Saad Maan, spokesperson of the Iraqi Interior Ministry.
“There are some papers and equipment of the commission burning in storehouse that has caught fire. We have seen boxes burning and maybe they were the empty ones. The majority of the ballot boxes have been kept in the other three storehouses where the fire has not traveled to,” he added.
Nine fire crews brought the fire under control on Sunday evening. Only one of the four warehouses at the site caught fire.
It is not immediately clear what caused the fire. Officials told Rudaw's reporter there have been no casualties.
The storehouse only contains votes cast in the Rasafa area, not other Iraqi provinces, as they have not yet been transferred to Baghdad, a source from the Iraqi Interior Ministry told Rudaw.
Reacting to the news of the blaze, the Fatih Coalition, an election alliance of Iran-backed Shia paramilitias led by Hadi al-Amiri, alleged the fire was started deliberately.
Fatih won the second largest share of seats among the Iraqi lists.
Salim al-Jabouri, the Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, claimed the fire was a deliberate act of arson. He demanded fresh elections.
“We are calling for the re-run of the election and the arrest of the fraudsters,” he said in an official statement.
It comes as Iraq prepares to manually recount ballot papers following allegations of widespread electoral fraud. The parliament also ordered the scrapping of all ballots cast by Kurdish security forces, internally displaced people (IDPs), and diaspora voters.
Supervision of the recount was taken away from Iraq's independent election commission and handed to a committee of nine judges.
Last updated 11.58 P.M.