Fraud allegations, protests threaten election outcome
Allegations of vote tampering and fraud hover over Iraq’s elections following an intelligence investigation of the electronic machines used in voting. Several candidates have filed appeals. Multi-ethnic (and oil-rich) Kirkuk is among the disputed areas. An electoral commission is set to examine reports and documents related to the electoral process.
Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Iraqi authorities said that they are prepared to re-examine the whole electoral process that led, on 12 May, to the victory of radical Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr and his populist anti-regime movement.
The decision follows allegations of fraud, irregularities and tampering with the electronic voting machines that might have changed the final results.
Two weeks after the polls, the outgoing government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi – backed by the international community – held a special cabinet ministers to analyse the election’s outcome and claims of electoral fraud.
The Iraqi Supreme Court has not yet formally ratified the election results and some lawmakers have called for the dissolution of the Independent High Electoral Commission.
There is a broad view that the vote was manipulated, especially in Kurdistan, where some local parties have threatened to boycott the political process if the vote is not cancelled.
In Parliament, a government representative said that the intelligence services tested some of the electronic voting machine, raising questions about possible manipulation in favour or against various parties.
On the basis of early findings, the cabinet met with the top officials in the ministries of justice and security. They also decided “to set up a commission of investigation to examine reports, documents and information related to the election,” Prime Minister al-Abadi said.
At the end of the inquiry, the Commission will present its conclusions "to the Government, the Supreme Judicial Council, the Supreme Court and the Electoral Administrative Court” who will be tasked with "taking the necessary measures while respecting each one's skills and fields".
However, it is unclear how soon the newly-created body will complete its work. Overall, the impact could range from changes to local results to (worst case scenario) the cancellation of the election itself.
So far, only a few checks have been carried out at a local level, in particular, in the oil-rich multi-ethnic area of Kirkuk, which has been claimed by both Arabs and Kurds, and where most complaints have been filed. Interethnic clashes have led to the imposition of a curfew
The electoral commission now has to examine each appeal, but this will not prevent negotiations for the formation of the new government.
In short, the various factions are working behind the scenes to form a new government, which will be burdened by accusations and appeals that might invalidate the whole process.