Iraqi parliament approves recount of parliamentary election votes

Baghdad, June 6 (IANS) The Iraqi parliament on Wednesday approved recount of votes in all polling stations across Iraq over allegations of fraud and irregularities in the parliamentary election held on May 12, the Iraqi official television reported.

With the attendance of 172 lawmakers at the emergency session, the parliament passed a draft to carry out manual recount of all the votes across Iraq, Xinhua news agency reported.

The parliament voted in favour of suspending the nine top officials of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), and to replace them with nine judges in order to supervise the performance of the electoral commission, the channel said.

The parliament also approved the recommendations of a high-level committee formed earlier by the Council of Ministers (cabinet headed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi) to investigate the irregularities and fraud in the parliamentary elections, the channel added.

On Tuesday, Abadi’s Council of Ministers approved the recommendations of the high-level committee which included partial manual recount of votes at all ballot stations, and the cancellation of results from overseas and displaced voters.

In addition, the recommendations stated that high-ranking members of the electoral commission to be banned from travelling abroad without permission of Abadi personally.

The parliament measures of recounting the votes would change the final results of the parliamentary elections and would certainly delay the formation of the next government.

However, it is not immediately clear what the decision of the Iraqi Federal Court will be, after it received from the Iraqi President Fuad Masoum a request questioning the legitimacy of forming the high-level committee by the Council of Ministers, as the electoral commission is an independent body not under the control of Abadi’s Council of Ministers.

Masoum’s request also questioned the legitimacy of parliament measure to decide recount of the polls votes, as according to the Iraqi constitution, the parliament has only monitoring role on the independent commission.

Many Iraqi parties, especially in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan and the disputed areas, including Kirkuk province, have complained about alleged irregularities and forgery in the parliamentary election.

The complaints put IHEC under pressure, as the electoral commission has not carried out manual recount of many ballot boxes and depended only on the electronic count of the votes.

On May 12, millions of Iraqis went to 8,959 polling centrrs across the country to vote for their parliamentary representatives in the first general election after Iraq’s historic victory over the Islamic State last December.

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