ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The United Nations on Tuesday described the manual vote recount process of the May 12 national election as “transparent” after Kurdish parties’ calls the previous day for a complete recount and allegations of fraud.
After finishing the recount in Kirkuk, the appointed judges for the Iraqi electoral commission left for Sulaimani Province on Sunday and started the day after.
The United Nation’s Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Iraq for Political Affairs and Electoral Assistance, Alice Walpole, told reporters on Tuesday at the location of the recount that she was aware of the concerns of the parties.
“I am very well aware that a number of political parties have expressed concerns about the recount process and I would invite them to come down and take a look for themselves.”
In over 3,000 ballot boxes in Sulaimani Province, just fewer than 200 have been appealed by political parties over suspicion of fraud and rigging, which are the only ones the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) will recount.
All Kurdish parties, except for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), had boycotted the recount process in Sulaimani, claiming the selection of ballot boxes was tampered with before Monday’s recount started and demanded a full recount of the May 12 votes.
The IHEC and Iraq’s appointed judges who oversee the process across the country had interpreted the Supreme Court’s approval of a manual recount as a partial process.
The decision was controversial as parties alleging fraud in the national election called for an entire vote recount as the rest claimed the choice was practical and a full recount would be arduous.
“The board of judges that are organizing the recount has made clear to me that it is their intention to recount all of the ballots about which there have been complaints or concerns.”
“I have been talking to the counters [IHEC employees]…and they themselves believe that this is a good, reliable, and transparent process.”
In a statement released on Monday, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) affirmed that the organization’s electoral experts “are watching the entire process.”
During her visit to Baghdad, Walpole reiterated the UNAMI’s “commitment to assist the [IHEC] and its Board of Judges in completing an orderly, professional and transparent recount process,” the statement read.
Walpole said she had discussed the process with the UN’s electoral experts and stated that “they and I are very impressed by the professionalism and the good organization of the process here, it’s very systematic.”
“The United Nations has made a commitment to observe this electoral recount process,” Walpole noted. “We started in Kirkuk, we’ve done some observing in Baghdad, and now we’re here in Sulaimani.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany