Iraq's supreme court rules in favour of electoral recount

Iraq's supreme court rules in favour of electoral recount
Iraq's election, which saw a surprise victory for nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, has been marred by allegations of fraud.
2 min read
21 June, 2018
Confusion has gripped Iraq since the vote won by Sadr's electoral alliance [Anadolu]
Iraq's Supreme Court ruled on Thursday in favour of a manual recount of last month's legislative elections that resulted in a surprise victory for populist Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Last week, parliament ordered a manual recount of the 12 May legislative elections and sacked the commission which oversaw the polls that resulted in Sadr's surprise election win.

The court found that the recount decision by parliament in response to allegations of electoral fraud does not violate the constitution, Court President Medhat al-Mahmud told a news conference.

Confusion has gripped the country since the vote won by Sadr's electoral alliance with the Iraqi Communist Party, even with negotiations to form a new government underway.

At the weekend, a ballot box storage warehouse in Baghdad was damaged by fire, resulting in the arrest of three police officers and an electoral commission employee. Iraqi authorities said no ballot papers were destroyed in the blaze.

During his weekly press conference, Abadi called the fire a deliberate act and said the attorney general would bring charges against those who are trying to undermine the political process.

On Tuesday, the UN envoy to Iraq Jan Kubis called for an investigation into allegations of fraud and vote rigging, urging politicians to "work together in support of the steps to address the complaints concerning the electoral process".

Last month's election saw a record number of abstentions as Iraqis snubbed the corruption-tainted elite who have dominated the country since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Less than half of Iraq's 24-million electorate took part, dumping the old guard in favour of Sadr's alliance followed by a list of former fighters of the Hashd al-Shaabi alliance that last year played a key role in the defeat of the Islamic State group.

But the old guard - rejected by Iraqi voters - have clamoured for a recount, although experts say it is unlikely to produce a major change in the number of seats won by their rival lists.