Iraq court orders arrest of four suspects in Baghdad ballot fire

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Iraq court orders arrest of four suspects in Baghdad ballot fire

Thick black smoke billowed over central Baghdad as firefighters fought to control the blaze, and some suffered the effects of smoke inhalation.

"There is no doubt that it was a deliberate act and I am personally following up on the investigation with the criminal police and the committee tasked with probing the fire", Qassem al-Araji said June 11.

Haidar al-Abadi condemned the burning of the election warehouse in Baghdad as part of a plot against the nation and its democracy.

He said the government would "take all necessary measures and strike with an iron fist against those who undermine Iraq's security".

Mohamed al-Rabeei, a member of Baghdad province council, said, "The storage spaces housing all the ballot boxes from Russafa belonging to the election commission are now on fire".

The outgoing speaker of the Iraqi parliament has said the election should be repeated as a result of the fire.

The parliamentary Iraqi elections on May 12, 2018, ended with a surprise win for Muqtada al-Sadr's "Sairoun" party list, which secured 54 seats out of the 329 that constitute the Iraqi parliament (see Jerusalem Center article May 22, 2018).

According to Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan, the blaze began on Sunday in one of four warehouses containing ballot boxes, documents, and equipment belonging to the Independent Higher Electoral Commission behind the May 12 vote, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Sunday.

"It is not an ideal situation for Iran and they might support a redo, but actually a recount might implicate them if the allegations in the north are correct".

However, any attempt to manipulate the election recount is likely to have failed, experts told Arab News.

Mr al-Sadr, who emerged as a kingmaker in the elections, has a chequered and sometimes violent past which has included targeting both foreign troops and Sunni Iraqis with violence.

The election, the first held since the government declared victory over IS in December, saw a turnout of 44.5% - much lower than in previous polls.

"Is it not time to stand as one for building and reconstruction instead of burning ballet boxes or repeating elections just for one seat or two?" he added.

A fire at a warehouse in Iraq's capital has threatened boxes of ballots from last month's democratic elections, officials said.

The fire broke out on the same day a panel of judges had been formed to officially take over the election recount from the ostensibly autonomous Independent High Electoral Commission, the body that administered the vote and had since come under intense criticism for its performance.

The elections were marred by complaints about the alleged manipulation of the electronic voting system used for the first time in May.

But a repeat of the election is unlikely, analysts say, as none of the top parties have endorsed this step, and many incumbent lawmakers have lost their seats and thus lack legitimacy in the eyes of the public.

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