Manual count of disputed votes in Kirkuk begins

Published 05.07.2018 00:00

A manual count of contested votes in northern Iraq's Kirkuk region in the federal elections started yesterday with monitoring by judges.

Following the May 12 elections, the electronic vote counting was controversial, leading many to object to the results and demand the re-count. Due to these demands, approximately 160,000 votes are expected to be recounted in six additional more regions.

The Iraqi parliament earlier in June voted in favor of amending Iraq's election law, allowing votes to be recounted manually, a decision that was upheld by the Supreme Federal Court.

After the elections, Iraqi Turkmens and several Arab and Kurd groups in Kirkuk protested alleged fraud in the country's first parliamentary elections since the defeat of Daesh. Confusion has gripped Iraq since the win by Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr's electoral alliance with communists, even as negotiations to form a new government are underway. Protesters claimed their votes were illegally changed in favor of Kurdish parties by local officials at polling stations.

Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi, who was defeated as his alliance came third, said the government's investigations of the elections stemmed from serious violations made by the independent election commission. Thus, the nine-member independent commission was dismissed and will be replaced by judges.

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

Less than half of Iraq's 24-million electorate took part in the elections, dumping the old guard in favor of Sadr's alliance followed by a list of former fighters o

f the Hashd Shaabi alliance that last year played a key role in the defeat of the Daesh terror group.

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