About half of the votes were kept within the structure. The Ministry of the Interior states that no ballot box has been destroyed. The outgoing premier speaks of "plot" targeting democracy and announces an "iron fist". The incident feeds calls for re-run of election.
Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) – Just days after the request of the Iraqi Parliament to carry out a re-count of the results of the last 12 May general elections over (possible) fraud, the most important ballot storage deposit caught fire.
It housed about half of total votes cast by citizens. The incident, whose causes have not yet been ascertained, has fuelled the call for new elections.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called the fire a "plot" to attack democracy in Iraq.
It has triggered further doubts and questions about the regularity of an election already suspected of irregularities. Less than 45% of voters cast their ballot, a historical minimum, and immediately fraud allegations emerged.
"We will take all the necessary measures - underlined the premier in a statement - and strike with an iron fist all who undermine the security of the nation and its citizens". The Ministry of the Interior added that "not even one box is burned" containing the votes.
Experts and investigators have opened an investigation to determine the causes of the fire and prepare a detailed report to illustrate the possible causes.
Last week the Iraqi parliament passed a motion calling for a recount, this time by hand, card by card. The political elections saw the victory of the radical Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr and of his populist and anti-terrorist movement. Previously rumors of fraud and disputes had emerged, prompting the government to form a commission of inquiry and to postpone the official announcement of the results.
For the outgoing President of Parliament Salim al-Jabouri the incident shows that it is necessary to repeat the elections. "The crime of burning ballot-box storage warehouses in the Rusafa area is a deliberate act, a planned crime, aimed at hiding instances of fraud and manipulation of votes, lying to the Iraqi people and changing their will and choices".
Those who oppose a new vote count, especially within the winning coalition, affirm that those who voted for an audit did so [as in the case of the president of the Parliament al-Jabouri] after losing his seat. The al-Sadr block boycotted the session in which the vote took place.