Iraq fires five election officials for corruption in May 12 poll

According to a 28-page ministerial report, some of the allegations involved “vote buying.”

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq on Saturday fired five local election officials for corruption in the aftermath of the controversial May 12 polls, a spokesperson for the Independent High Elections Commission (IHEC) said.

Allegations of fraud and corruption marred Iraq’s recent parliamentary elections, leading to the outgoing Parliament to pass a law in June which approved the manual recount of votes across the country.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had also designated a committee to probe reports of vote-rigging in provinces across the country.

The decision to sack the five election officials came after his approval of recommendations made by the ministerial committee, Judge Laith Jabr Hamza said in a statement on Saturday.

“The decision to sack the officials was approved by the prime minister after they committed violations, manipulations, and financial corruption,” Hamza said, adding the five officials “will appear before the courts.”

The Judge said the suspects headed ballot offices in Salahuddin, Kirkuk, and Anbar where they oversaw the voting.

According to the 28-page ministerial report, some of the recommendations involved “vote buying,” AFP reported.

Saturday’s announcement comes as Iraq is engulfed in nationwide protests where people in central and southern provinces are calling for better public services and an end to unemployment.

Iraq’s top Shia cleric Ali al-Sistani, who said he supports the weeks-long demonstrations, has called for the formation of a new government “as soon as possible” to address corruption and poor basic services in the country.

Iraq remains high on Transparency International’s Corruption Index as widespread fraud and mismanagement in state institutions are the most significant challenges the country has faced since the fall of the former regime nearly 15 years ago.

In 2017, Iraq ranked 166 out of 176 as the most corrupt country in the world.

Influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoon Coalition won the May 12 polls, securing 54 seats out of a total 329.

Iran-backed Hadi al-Amiri’s al-Fatih Coalition finished second with 47 seats followed by current Prime Minister Abadi’s Nasr (Victory) Coalition in third, securing 42 seats.