Iraq election marred by “lack of transparency”

October 13, 2021 - 18:35

TEHRAN - The spokesman for the second-largest primary bloc, Fateh Alliance (Conquest alliance) in Iraq, Ahmed Al-Asadi, has confirmed that the alliance has logged a legal challenge to the initial results of Iraq’s parliamentary elections on Sunday and says that the alliance is waiting for the final result from the country’s Independent High Electoral Commission in a “transparent” manner.

Al-Asadi says, “we will not neglect one vote from the Iraqi people, and we will not back down [on this matter].” He stressed that Al-Fateh’s rejection of the results “is not directed at any bloc or the Independent High Electoral Commission,” insisting that the results should be “transparent and clear to convince the masses.”

He pointed out that “one million votes were not counted among the announced preliminary results,” saying that “we have evidence that proves that we obtained a number of votes that qualifies us to win.”

The spokesperson of the second largest alliance in the outgoing parliament explained that “the legal challenge to the results is valid,” adding “we are waiting for the final result from the commission in a transparent manner.”

Al-Asadi noted that that “[the Fatah alliance] belongs to the [popular mobilization] people, which contributed to preserving the democratic process [by liberating the country from Daesh” adding that “we have records for all electoral stations, and we call for the necessity of scrutiny, in a transparent manner.”

Commission officials say 3,177 outstanding ballot boxes were not included in the initial results. In its statement, the Al-Fateh Alliance called on the Iraqi judiciary to prosecute Muhannad Naim, the prime minister’s advisor for electoral security, for his confessions in a leaked audio recording that he was charged with “entering the electoral process and destroying special electoral files targeting certain large blocs.”

The Al-Fateh Alliance affirmed that it “will hold a difficult account for anyone who seeks to harm Iraq, its sovereignty, and its constitutional institutions that were built with the blood of its men, and it will stand against anyone who tries to bring down the democratic process in Iraq.”

The Fatah alliance Is not alone in voicing its objection to the announcement of the preliminary results. Other parties, such as the state of law coalition led by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, have also expressed doubts about the election results despite winning more seats than the state of law coalition won in the previous election.

The Hikma (wisdom) party led by the cleric Ammer al-Hakeem has also rejected the announcement by the Independent High Electoral Commission, as has the party of former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

This as Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission has acknowledged errors in the vote-counting process. The commission says that “the votes in more than 3,100 polling stations will be counted manually, and they will be added to the announced results,” adding that “the results [of the election] will change according to the vote counting of the remaining stations.”

To be more precise, the commission officials say 3,177 outstanding ballot boxes were not included in the initial results and will be manually counted. The boxes will be returned to Baghdad and counted at the Iraqi capital’s National Centre in the presence of international observers and the media.

The commission has confirmed that “the final results will be announced after the resolution of the appeals and the counting of the remaining votes.” It added that 6% of the electronic machines had technical problems and will be hand-counted

It added that If they find issues with the original count, the commission will recount all the ballot boxes in all the polling stations in all the provinces.

A day earlier, the leader of the Fatah party, Hadi al-Ameri, rejected the results and warned, “we will not accept these fabricated results whatever the cost, and we will defend the votes of our candidates and voters will full force.”

A joint statement by several parties, including the Fatah Alliance, said, “we will appeal against the results, and we reject them.”

One of the Popular Mobilization Unit’s most powerful factions, the Hezbollah Brigades, rejected the election as “the biggest scam and rip-off the Iraqi people have been subjected to in modern history.”

There were fears before the election that the German-made (imported from South Korea) bio-metric electronic voting system could be subject to a cyber attack by foreign powers.

According to preliminary results from the electoral commission, the biggest winner appeared to be the movement of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, which increased its lead to 73 of the legislature’s 329 seats. Parliament speaker Mohamad al-Halbousi’s Toqadom (progress party) came in second place with 38 seats, despite state TV stating 43 seats. In third place (according to the election commission) was the state of law coalition with 37 seats. Former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki also leads the party.

The initial results have changed after the commission recounted more votes. The Fatah alliance got six more seats, the state of law coalition three more seats, and independent candidates formerly affiliated with the popular mobilization units seven extra seats. Muqtada Sadr’s party has lost three seats. These results are subject to change as more appeals are heard, and more votes are counted.

Sunday’s vote was held under a new law billed by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to loosen the grip of established political parties and pave the way for independent, pro-reform candidates. Voting districts were made smaller, and the practice of awarding seats to lists of candidates sponsored by parties was abandoned.

Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, elections in Iraq have been followed by protracted negotiations that can last months to select a Prime Minister, President, Parliament Speaker and serve to distribute government posts among the parties with the most seats.

All blocs and parties have emphasized the importance of resorting to legal avenues to challenge the results. They say they will not succumb to any foreign enemy plot to pit one party against the other in a manner that results in violence or civil unrest.

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