Smoke billows from a fire at a warehouse of the Iraqi election commission in Baghdad on Sunday. Photo: Sabah Arar/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A manual recount of Iraq’s election is expected to start this week with the UN urging transparency and commitment to resolving issues through legal channels after fire ripped through a warehouse storing ballots this weekend.
“The manual recount of the votes will start either Wednesday or Thursday this week, as the Iraqi parliament had decided,” Said Kakayi, member of the commissioners’ council of Iraq’s electoral body, told Rudaw.
The recount of 52,939 ballot boxes will need 10,000 employees and nearly three weeks to complete, he added.
Iraq’s parliament voted for a full recount of votes in response to reports of electoral fraud. The legislature also suspended the electoral commission, ordering a panel of judges to oversee the manual recount.
After a fire at a warehouse on Sunday storing ballots, Iraq’s parliament speaker Salim al-Jabouri added his voice to those of Kurdish opposition parties calling for a full re-do of the election because of allegations of widespread fraud. He said the fire was planned to hide proof of fraud.
The cause of the fire is still unknown, but it is widely believed to be arson.
The warehouse only contained votes cast in the predominately Shiite al-Rusafa area of Baghdad, a source from the Iraqi Interior Ministry told Rudaw.
The UN’s top representative in Iraq, Jan Kubis, called on a transparent and prompt investigation into all complaints of fraud and urged “all political actors and their supporters to uphold the peace, and to remain committed to resolving any electoral disputes through legal channels.”
In light of the fire, Kubis also urged “the government, the security forces and the electoral management bodies to take all appropriate steps to secure electoral materials,” in a statement on Monday.