Four arrested in Iraq over ballot box storage blaze

Three of the suspects are policemen and the fourth is an employee of the Independent High Elections Commission.

    Iraqi authorities said the ballot boxes were saved but the fire has added to fears of violence [Reuters]
    Iraqi authorities said the ballot boxes were saved but the fire has added to fears of violence [Reuters]

    An Iraqi court has ordered the arrest of four people accused of setting fire to a storage site housing ballot boxes from a May parliamentary election, state media said.

    Three of the suspects are policemen and the fourth is an employee of the Independent High Elections Commission, state television said on Monday.

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    The storage site holding half of Baghdad's ballot boxes went up in flames on Sunday in what Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi denounced as a "plot to harm the nation and its democracy".

    Last week, parliament passed a law for a recount of 11 million votes, following allegations of fraud during the May 12 elections.

    Iraqi authorities said the ballot boxes were saved but the fire has added to fears of violence.

    "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.

    Sadr's victory

    In a shock result, the Sairoon coalition of Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr came first in last month's vote, winning 54 out of 328 seats.

    Certain parties are trying to drag Iraq into civil war, Sadr said on Monday over the storage site fire, adding that he would not participate in one.

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    His victory came on the back of an election campaign of opposing foreign interference in Iraq, as well as promising to rebuild schools and hospitals - which were heavily damaged in the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, known as ISIS) group last year.

    According to intelligence services, however, tests of electronic voting machines - used for the first time in Iraqi elections - produced varied results, appearing to give credence to the fraud claims.

    The outgoing parliament's decision for a recount of the votes also called for the Independent High Elections Commission's leadership to be replaced by nine judges.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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