ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A fire broke out on Sunday at a warehouse in Baghdad storing the May 12 Iraqi parliamentary election ballot boxes.
Saad Maan, a spokesperson for the Iraqi Interior Ministry, said firefighters rushed to the scene in the al-Rusafa district of the country’s capital in an attempt to contain the blaze.
Iraqi Interior Minister Qasim al-Araji told Kurdistan 24 the fire engulfed a warehouse which stored the electronic ballot devices. He added that firefighters, electoral commission staff, and the army were able to save the ballot boxes without any damages.
Araji also revealed that the Ministry had formed a high committee to investigate the cause of the fire.
However, in a conflicting statement, the Director General of al-Rusafa Municipality, Ahmed Khawam, told reporters at the scene that the fire damaged ballot boxes at three warehouses.
“Three rooms were set ablaze at one of the warehouses which had ballot boxes inside while firefighters contained the flames at the other two warehouses,” Khawam said.
Riyadh al-Badran, a member of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), told Kurdistan 24 votes from nearly 7,000 ballot stations had been stored at the warehouse. Badran said the IHEC staff and firefighters saved a majority of the documents.
In the aftermath of widespread allegations of electoral fraud and violations during the vote, the Iraqi Parliament on Wednesday passed a law mandating the manual recount of ballots across the country.
The electoral commission, tasked with ensuring a transparent and fair election, has been heavily criticized for its handling of the vote. As a result, nine judges were appointed to replace the IHEC administrators.
Editing by Nadia Riva and Karzan Sulaivany