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Iraq to conduct manual election recount only for problematic ballots

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Ballot boxes are seen after a fire at a storage site in Baghdad, housing the boxes from Iraq's May parliamentary elections, on June 10, 2018. (Photo by Reuters)

Iraq plans to conduct a manual recount of votes from last month's parliamentary elections only for ballots mentioned in official reports on fraud or in formal complaints.

Iraq's top court on Thursday upheld a law mandating a nationwide manual recount of all ballots from May 12 parliamentary elections.

The verdict from the Supreme Federal Court confirmed the recount process, which was opposed by some parties who made significant gains in the election.

The court ruling concerned a law passed by parliament that mandated a full, manual recount of the vote. The law had also suspended the Independent High Election Commission's nine-member board of commissioners and replaced them with judges.

The panel of judges now in charge of the elections commission on Sunday interpreted the Supreme Federal Court's ruling and said it would only manually recount problematic ballots "out of respect for the will of voters and their rights ... and to preserve their vote which came without any violation."

In a statement, the panel said ballot boxes from areas where with fraud allegations will be moved to the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

It added that the recount would be held in the presence of United Nations representatives at a time and place which would be announced later.

The move will probably speed up the ratification of final results and the formation of a new government.

The electoral commission of Iraq announced on May 13 that 44.5 percent of those eligible to vote cast their ballots in the parliamentary elections.

"The number, or total number of votes is 10,840,989 including 9,952,264 voters who voted on the public voting day and 709,396 voters who voted in the special voting day, while the number of Iraqi voters abroad was 179,329. Hence, the turnout of voters is 44.52 percent of the votes counted," said Chief Electoral Officer of the Independent High Electoral Commission, Riyadh Al-Badran.

Iraq's electoral commission announced on May 19 the Sa'iroun (Marchers) political bloc, cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's alliance with communists, as the winner of the country's parliamentary elections.

Sadr's alliance, which contested in Iraq's elections for the first time, captured 54 parliamentary seats, the commission said.

On June 10, a storage site housing ballot boxes from Iraq’s parliamentary elections in Baghdad caught fire ahead of a recount.

The fire broke out in a warehouse located in Russafa, one of the largest voting districts in eastern Baghdad.

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