Iraq’s election commission annuls thousands of votes

Elections commission says a probe has been launched with ‘a view to holding violators accountable’.

Authorities in Iraq have annulled votes cast at more than a thousand polling stations, following allegations of fraud, including those in the Sunni-predominant provinces of Anbar, Saladin and Diyala. 

Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission said in a statement on Wednesday that the decision was taken following the verification of several “red complaints”, wherein gross violations affecting the outcome of elections are deemed to have taken place. 

The commission added that it annulled votes cast at 1,021 of the country’s 53,000 ballot boxes, and that a probe had been launched “with a view to holding violators accountable”.

While emphasising the reliability of electronic vote-counting, the commission said it intended to “address all matters related to parties’ and candidates complaints”.

Politicians, who have until Thursday to formalise their complaints, voted on Monday to annul all votes cast overseas and recount about 10 percent of votes cast overall.

If the results differ by more than 25 percent from those announced by the electoral commission, the move would force a manual recount of nearly 11 million ballots.

The May 12 vote saw cleric Muqtada Sadr’s electoral alliance with Iraq’s communist party emerge victorious, coming ahead of Iran-aligned Shia parties that took the lead in the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).

Official results showed Sadr’s Sairoon coalition come out with 54 seats, followed by a coalition linked with Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in close second with 47 votes. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi‘s Nasri coalition gained 42 seats.

Parliamentarians from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in Kirkuk planned to lodge an appeal with Iraq’s Federal Court against the decision to annul some poll results.

“Parliament’s decision to annul some poll results is unconstitutional and bypasses the appropriate judicial authorities,” Rebwar Taha, a PUK MP from Kirkuk told reporters on Wednesday.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies