An electoral commission employee examines a printout from an electronic counting machine in Najaf on Sunday. Photo: Haidar Hamdani/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – With numerous allegations of voter fraud, Iraq’s election commission is now coming under fire for its handling of the matter.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi wrote to the government’s Integrity Commission, asking it to investigate “violations conducted by the Iraqi High Election Commission (IHEC) regarding its commitments,” Saad al-Hadithi, government spokesperson, told Iraqi News Agency (INA).
Hadithi said an earlier complaint had been filed, before the election, accusing the election commission of failing to fulfill its duties with respect to its contact with companies that were testing the new electronic machines.
Several parties across Iraq have called for a manual recount of votes or even a complete do-over of the election in the Kurdistan Region and the disputed provinces.
Head of the electoral commission, Riyadh al-Badran said on Wednesday that there is “no justification for a manual recount yet.”
Not all of his staff agree with him, however. Commission member Ayad Kakayi said they have received requests for a manual recount of five percent of the ballot boxes and condemned his organization’s failure to respond to the complaints.
The UN’s special representative in Iraq, Jan Kubis, weighed in on the matter on Thursday, issuing a call for the election commission to investigate all complaints it has received with respect to the election.
“The Commission has to act expeditiously in order to seriously address all complaints including, as necessary, the conduct of partial manual recount in selected locations, notably in Kirkuk. It is important that these are undertaken in full transparency, witnessed by stakeholders, to strengthen the confidence in the process,” he said on Thursday, adding that the UN is ready to help.
He also urged all those involved to resolve issues through legal channels and to “uphold the peace.”
KDP predicts gain in seats
The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has accused members within the election commission of trying to stage a plot against their party.
The KDP used to hold the position of head of the election commission, but Sarbast Amedi was removed from the post after Kurdistan’s independence vote and replaced with Badran, a Dawa party member.
“No such big problems occurred when we were heading and leading the commission,” Khasraw Goran, the head of KDP’s internal electoral body, told reporters in a press conference on Wednesday.
The two Kurdish members currently sitting on the commission are Ayad Kakayi, a member of Gorran, and Rizgar Hama, from the PUK.
The KDP’s Goran alleged the two were plotting against his party.
“This does signify that wherever the KDP is absent, it hurts the Kurds,” he contended.
According to preliminary results, the KDP has obtained 8 seats in Erbil and Goran is hoping for an increase following counting of ballots with technical issues.
"We have secured ten seats in Duhok based on our numbers. In Mosul, we have secured 6,” Goran said. Mosul is located in Nineveh province.
In total, the KDP is hoping to increase their seats in the Iraqi parliament to 27 – two more than they had in the outgoing legislature.
Technical issues meant that electronic results from Erbil, Nineveh, and Duhok provinces have not been submitted via satellite.
Goran said the KDP has filed 80 complaints, mostly in Sulaimani, and they are "serious complaints."
Six Kurdish parties have made a pact to fight against alleged voter fraud and have announced their intention to take the matter to the American consulate general.
Goran also responded to claims from the PUK that KDP has stolen one of their seats in Duhok. He said that the PUK’s problems come from divisions within their own party and support base after Barham Salih split and formed the CDJ.
"Let them take their chair to the carpenter and fix it,” Goran said, insisting that the KDP earned the people’s votes because of their patriotic stance.