Friday, August 10, 2018

No Major Changes In Results After Election Recount In Iraq (REVISED)

(Al Mirbad)
Iraq’s Election Commission (IHEC) announced that it was finished with its manual recount and found no major differences with the initial results.

Going through the votes was initiated by parliament after widespread complaints of fraud especially in Anbar, Kirkuk, Sulaymaniya, and Ninewa. The controversy only grew after the IHEC threw out ballots from 103 polling stations in Anbar, Baghdad, Irbil, Ninewa, and Salahaddin, and then an additional 1,021 stations in Anbar, Baghdad, Diyala, Dohuk, Irbil, Kirkuk, Ninewa, Salahaddin, and Sulaymaniya along with some in England, Germany, Jordan, Sweden, Turkey and the U.S. In June, parliament voted to dismiss the Commission heads, replace them with judges, and start a manual process. Then in July, Prime Minister Haidar Abadi dismissed five election officials for fraud in Anbar, Kirkuk, and Salahaddin. Iraq Oil Report and Reuters also discovered that there were major problems with the South Korean electronic voting machines bought by the IHEC including counting valid ballots as invalid, and the company refusing to do a thorough audit of the system. After all that, there were no real differences reported.

The recount was initiated in provinces that received complaints. That was conducted in thirteen of Iraq’s 18 provinces; Anbar, Basra, Dhi Qar, Dohuk, Irbil, Kirkuk, Maysan, Muthanna, Ninewa, Qadisiya, Salahaddin, Sulaymaniya, Wasit. The winners remained almost the same. In Kirkuk for example, one of the most controversial governorates the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) still took 6 seats followed by 3 each for the Arab Alliance and Turkmen Front. The only difference was the Badr led Fatah list picked up one seat in Baghdad. Overall, Moqtada al-Sadr and the Communists’ Sairoon got 54 seats, the Badr led Fatah came in with 48, PM Abadi’s Nasr got 42 seats, and Vice President Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law was fourth with 26. While some of the complaints seemed to be sour grapes by losers, there appeared to be real problems in Kirkuk and Sulaymaniya where nearly all the parties accused the PUK of cheating. Those groups will not be happy with this announcement, and there could be further legal challenges.

With the counting finally done, the results can be certified. That should accelerate the government formation process. It’s still not clear whether Sadr will be able to form a ruling coalition or whether his opponents will be able to out maneuver him. What does seem apparent is that it will look much like all the other administrations since 2005 with all the winners being included.  

SOURCES

Aboulenein, Ahmed, “Iraq plans manual election recount only for suspect ballots,” Reuters, 6/24/18

Al Aalem, “The manual counting yields one seat change,” 8/10/18

Aldroubi, Mina, “Iraq revokes election recount process,” The National, 8/6/18

Kullab, Samya, “Before turbulent election day, Iraq ignored key warnings,” Iraq Oil Report, 7/25/18

Al Mirbad, “Al-Mirbad publishes the names of the winners of the parliamentary elections,” 8/10/18

Rasheed, Ahmed, Jalabi, Raya, Aboulenein, Ahmed, “Exclusive: Iraq election commission ignored warnings over voting machines – document,” Reuters, 8/5/18

Reuters, “Iraq sacks five local election officials on corruption charges,” 7/28/18

Rudaw, “Kurdistani parties keep all seats after Iraq’s largely unchanged recount results,” 8/9/18

Salaheddin, Sinan, “Iraq expands manual recount to 7 provinces,” Associated Press, 7/9/18

Al Sumaria, “Seats of political blocs in Baghdad and the provinces, as announced by the Election Board of Commissioners,” 8/9/18

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