Iraq’s election commission said on Monday it had completed a manual recount of May’s parliamentary election but was forced to cut the process short in the capital because voting records had been destroyed by a warehouse fire two months ago. The recount was ordered by parliament in June after a government report concluded there were serious violations in an initial count using an electronic vote-counting system. However, within hours of parliament voting for the recount, a fire broke out at a warehouse where voting machines and other records from the capital were kept.
The electoral commission spokesman said in a statement the body had been forced to cancel the remaining half of the recount in the capital. For what appears to be the first time, the statement said ballot boxes and actual ballots were among the records destroyed in the fire, contradicting earlier official accounts that ballot boxes had been saved.
The fire initially raised concern that an election dispute could lead to violence, although those worries were partly assuaged when cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose bloc won the most votes, declined to call his followers into the streets.