UN hails ‘credible’ Iraq vote count

The United Nations on Monday hailed Iraq's credible vote recount, which paves the way for a government to be formed nearly three months after polls.

Iraq's May 12 parliamentary elections were marred by allegations of fraud, prompting the country's supreme court to order a partial manual recount. As an official announced the checks had concluded, the UN said it had observed the recount 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.

Iraqi officials have not specified when the results will be announced, after which lawmakers will take their seats in parliament, elect a president and begin the process for forming a government. 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 official results will be announced shortly, said Imad Jamil, responsible for the vote in Al-Russafa. The recount will not however change the balance of power in the new parliament.

Each list should keep the same number of seats announced in May, but the lawmakers elected could be modified, according to experts. When results were initially announced in May, the anti-graft alliance of nationalist cleric Moqtada Sadr had won the largest number of seats. 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.

Source: International Islamic News Agency