Fire destroys Iraq’s biggest ballot warehouse before recount

Iraq election: Fire hits Baghdad recount warehouse

Parliament has mandated a manual recount of the election in which a number of parties alleged fraud.

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.

A fire has been brought under control at Iraq's biggest ballot paper storage depot days after an election recount was ordered.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday that serious violations occurred in Iraq's parliamentary elections after multiple complaints were received about the tallying of votes and the possible falsification of ballots.

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"Burning election warehouses.is a plot to harm the nation and its democracy", Abadi, whose coalition faltered in the polls by finishing third, said in a statement on Sunday. He said Baghdad will take all necessary measures, and pledged an iron fist policy against those who undermine the country's security.

An Interior ministry spokesman said that "most of the ballot boxes.have been preserved".

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

A ticket backed by the Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a long-time opponent of American influence in Iraq, won the most seats in the initial count, with 54 out of 329 - placing him in prime position to select the nation's next leader. The manual recount comes amid allegations of voter fraud.

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Last week, Iraq's parliament voted to dismiss the commissioners and replace them with judges while calling for a full hand recount of the approximately 11 million votes.

Suspicions of fraud in the May 12 vote led Parliament to call for a recount during an extraordinary session on Wednesday, Efe reported.

Less than half of Iraq's population took part in last month's election in what was widely interpreted as a show of disillusionment with established elites - a trend further demonstrated in the swing to Mr al-Sadr's coalition. State television said ballot boxes were moved to another location under heavy security. Three of them were policemen and one an employee of the Independent High Elections Commission.

The May 12 elections gave the lead to a coalition led by Shia firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, but a new government has yet to be formed.

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"Is it not time to stand as one for building and reconstruction instead of burning ballet boxes or repeating elections just for one seat or two?" he added. He said there were attempts by some to cause a civil war but promised he would not participate in one. The Independent High Elections Commission had used electronic vote-counting devices to tally the results. According to Interior Minister Qasim al-Araji, "not a single box was burned", but outgoing lawmakers-especially those that lost their seats in Parliament-are already calling for a repeat of the elections.

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