June 24, 2018 / 3:28 PM / 3 months ago

Iraq plans manual election recount only for suspect ballots

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq will conduct a manual recount of votes from a May election only for ballots mentioned in official reports on fraud or in formal complaints, potentially speeding up the ratification of final results and the formation of a new government.

A May parliamentary election has been marred by historically low turnout and fraud allegations.

The outgoing parliament this month passed a law mandating a nationwide manual recount of votes, but the panel of judges now in charge of the recount said the recount would only be conducted for problematic ballots.

Interpreting a ruling from the Supreme Federal Court, the panel of judges now in charge of the elections commission said on Sunday it would only manually recount problematic ballots “out of respect for the will of voters and their rights ... and to preserve their vote which came without any violation.”

The law passed by parliament had also suspended the Independent High Election Commission’s nine-member board of commissioners and replaced them with judges.

Ballot boxes from areas where there were fraud allegations will be moved to the capital Baghdad, where the recount will be held in the presence of United Nations representatives at a time and place to be determined later, the panel said in a statement.

The historically slow and complex process of forming an Iraqi government after an election has been further complicated this time round because of the fraud allegations and subsequent recount. Now that only specific ballots will be recounted, a new government could be formed faster.

Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Raya Jalabi/Keith Weir

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