|Date: Jul 2, 2018|
|Source: The Daily Star|
|Bombing in Iraq’s Kirkuk near ballot box site wounds 20|
KIRKUK, Iraq: One person was killed and 20 were wounded in Iraq’s Kirkuk Sunday when a suicide car bomb went off near a storage site housing ballot boxes from a May national election, police sources said, two days before a manual recount was due to begin. The warehouse holding the ballot boxes was not damaged, the sources said. Iraq’s parliamentary election in May was clouded by allegations of fraud.Saturday, a judges’ panel announced a recount of votes mandated by the Iraqi Parliament and the courts was to kick off Tuesday. The driver detonated the vehicle before reaching the warehouse entrance after officers guarding the facility opened fire, the police sources said.
“The manual recount will be conducted in the presence of representatives from the United Nations, foreign embassies and political parties; as well as local and international observers, members of the media, and the Ministries of Defense and the Interior,” Judge Laith Jabr Hamza said in a statement.
In seven provinces where many complaints of fraud were made – Kirkuk, Sulaimaniya, Irbil, Dohuk, Nineveh, Salahuddin and Anbar – the recount will be conducted by the local electoral offices, Hamza said.
The recount has been a politically fraught issue with the leaders of winning blocs embroiled in negotiations for weeks over the formation of the next government.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, whose electoral list came third in the poll marred by a historically low turnout, and the winner, religious scholar Moqtada al-Sadr, entered into an alliance last week, less than two weeks after Sadr announced a similar alliance with second-placed Iran ally Hadi al-Amiri’s bloc, thus bringing the top three blocs together.
The recount will exclude Baghdad where a storage site holding half of Baghdad’s ballot boxes went up in flames earlier this month in an incident Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi described as a “plot to harm the nation and its democracy.” Overseas votes in Iran, Turkey, the U.K., Lebanon, Jordan, the United States and Germany will also be recounted, Hamza said. The outgoing Parliament had previously passed a law earlier in June mandating a nationwide manual recount of all votes.