Iraqi Ballot Box Storage Site Catches Fire in Baghdad

Iraqi Ballot Box Storage Site Catches Fire in Baghdad

Amid allegations of widespread fraud, on Wednesday Iraq's parliament requested a manual recount of around 10 million votes cast.

Mr Kubis' statement followed the fire at the ballot storage site in Baghdad's eastern district of Al Russafa, which added to the allegations of fraud and vote rigging.

Baghdad firefighters managed to control the fire that broke out June 10 at the Metropolitan warehouse containing ballots.

Though Interior Minister Qasim al-Araji said no votes were lost, photographs showing the enormous fire and clouds of thick black smoke suggest the warehouse suffered significant damage.

Haidar al-Abadi condemned the burning of the election warehouse in Baghdad as part of a plot against the nation and its democracy.

Sadr aide Dhiaa al-Asadi described the fire as a plot created to force a repeat of the election and hide fraud.

He said the government would "take all necessary measures and strike with an iron fist against those who undermine Iraq's security".

Iraqi authorities said the ballot boxes had been rescued, but the fire has fueled fears of violence.

Outgoing speaker of parliament, Salim al-Jabouri, also said on Sunday the incident proved that the recent parliamentary elections should be repeated.

The legislative elections saw a surprise victory for anti-American populist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

"Election material, including maybe ballot boxes, were burned but most of the ballot boxes were stored in another building and have been preserved", Maan told reporters.

The ballots in the Al-Russafa warehouse were due to be recounted manually. The blaze comes as the country prepares for a parliamentary election recount.

He added only the Supreme Court could decide whether to re-run the election, which on Sunday appointed nine judges to supervise a manual vote recount.

The election was the first since the defeat of Islamic State raised hopes that Iraqis could put aside their communal and sectarian divisions and reconstruct the country. Meanwhile, Iraq's Independent Higher Election Commission said all the ballot boxes in the warehouse are safe.

Abadi's government on Tuesday said an investigation found serious violations and blamed the elections commission for majority.

Election victor Sadr on Monday called on Iraqis to unite rather than fight over the recount in a message aimed at unity following the fire.

The elections were marred by complaints about the alleged manipulation of the electronic voting system used for the first time in May.

Over 170 lawmakers had chose to suspend Article 38 of the electoral law, which stipulates that vote counting shall be done electronically, while members of the Supreme Electoral Committee are to be replaced by nine judges to oversee the vote recount. He said there were attempts by some to cause a civil war but promised he would not participate in one.

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