Vote recount could delay next Iraqi government until 2019: MP

The manual recounting of Iraqi election votes will take 3-6 months, a Kurdish lawmaker said on Friday, warning of a possible civil war if the recount leads to changes in the current number of Shia bloc seats in the Iraqi parliament.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The recounting of Iraqi election votes will take months, a Kurdish lawmaker said on Friday, and warned of a possible civil war if results are substantially different than those previously announced.

The previous day, Iraq's Supreme Court approved a decision to manually recount all votes cast across the country in the May 12 national election following pervasive claims of fraud.

“If all the votes get recounted then sent to the Supreme Court and Parliament to be approved, then a parliament speaker is elected, and then the President of Iraq, all this might be completed by the end of 2018,” said Kurdish lawmaker in the Iraqi Parliament Masoud Haider, in an interview with Kurdistan 24.

He estimated the manual process of recounting votes would take about 3-6 months. After that, Haider said, attempts to form the next Iraqi government could start at the beginning of 2019 and should take between one and three months.

He explained that the process of forming the new government would take much longer if the manual recount of votes leads to a significant change in the election results and seat ratios of political parties, namely Iraq's leading Shia blocs and coalitions.

“In this scenario, Iraq will step into a more dangerous situation that will go beyond political rivalries,” Haider continued. 'Because Shia parties have their militia groups and this might lead them into conflict.”

Iraq's electoral commission announced the final result of parliamentary elections on May 19, with the Sairoon Coalition led by influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr taking the lead by securing 54 seats out of a total 329.

Following in second place with 47 seats was al-Fatih Coalition led by Shia militia commander Hadi al-Amiri. Current Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s Nasr Coalition came in third, securing 42 seats.

Due to the manual recount of votes, over 60 Iraqi lawmakers have signed a petition to extend the term for the current parliament members for at least two additional months, which would expire by the end of this month. It has not been voted on yet, nor is the constitutional need for such an extension clear.

Adil Nouri, another Kurdish member of Baghdad's Parliament, told Kurdistan 24 on Friday that the manual recount would require just two months to complete.

If the results somehow prove that widespread violations in electoral law or outright fraud had taken place, he said, the election results could be voided altogether, presumably leading to an entirely new election.

Though Iraq's massive oil and gas reserves make it one of the major petroleum producers in the world, it remains a failed state in regards to security, stability, economy, services, and infrastructure, fifteen years after the fall of Saddam Hussein's authoritarian regime.

Editing by John J. Catherine