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The New Arab

Iraqi nationalist cleric Sadr wins election recount: electoral commission

Sadr's alliance retained all 54 of the 329 seats it won in May [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 August, 2018

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Iraq's electoral said cleric Moqtada Sadr's joint list with communists won Iraq's legislative election in May according to a manual recount.

Nationalist Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr's joint list with communists won Iraq's legislative election in May according to a manual recount, the electoral commission said on Friday, paving the way for a government to be formed nearly three months after the polls.

Allegations of fraud prompted the recount, but Sadr's alliance retained all 54 of the 329 seats it won in the May 12 vote, with the only change being an extra seat for the Conquest Alliance of pro-Iranian former paramilitary fighters, which remains in second place.

On Monday, the United Nations hailed Iraq's "credible" vote recount. Iraq's May 12 parliamentary elections were marred by allegations of fraud, prompting the country's supreme court to order a partial manual recount, noting it had observed the procedure and found it to be "conducted in a manner that is credible, professional and transparent".

"We are very pleased that it's been concluded and we look forward to the next steps in this process towards the formation of the new government," said a statement by Alice Walpole, a UN envoy to Iraq

Judge Laith Hamza, spokesman for the electoral commission, said Monday the recount "in all polling stations in Iraq and abroad where complaints were registered has ended".

The commission decided not to undertake such checks for al-Russafa, one of the largest voting districts in eastern Baghdad, where a fire in June ripped through Iraq's biggest ballot warehouse.

In the arson attack "882 ballot boxes entirely went up in smoke", Hamza said in a statement, despite authorities at the time suggesting the votes were saved.

Three police officers and an electoral commission employee were arrested over the blaze.

The election saw a record low turnout of 44.5 percent, with many Iraqis disillusioned by the political class. 

Iraq has seen a month of unrest since protests erupted in the south of the country and spread to Baghdad, with demonstrators rallying against a lack of public services and jobs.

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