Iraqi court backs demands for full ballot recount

By Mustafa Muayad - Head of Baghdad office in Salt & Associates - m.ridha@saltandassociates.com - 00964 78 050 10222

Iraq’s Judicial High Council on Thursday backed demands for a full manual ballot recount in a move that could further delay the formation of a new government.

Iraq’s parliament on Wednesday ordered the nationwide recount of the May 12 votes and sacked the independent high electoral commission (IHEC) which oversaw the polls. The court said it will take over from the commission.

“Following the implementation of the third amendment law of the election law, the Judicial High Council is expected to meet on Sunday to select judges to supervise the manual recount,” court spokesman Abdel Sattar Bayrikdar told The National.

The move calls into question the formation of a government, following the surprise election of Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr’s Sairoun bloc, as well as the effectiveness of Iraq’s democratic process.

However, added Mr Bayrikdar, the top judicial authority will act in a “fair and impartial manner to reassure the public that no parties or individuals will intervene or influence the council’s work.”

A committee of top judges on Thursday moved into the headquarters of the election commission ahead of the take over.

In response, the IHEC said it deems the move “illegal” and that it would appeal against the new law.

The commission’s board will use its constitutional and legal right to appeal the amendment to the election law because it contains violations and is not in harmony with the constitution, IHEC said in a statement.

More than 170 MPs voted in an emergency parliamentary session on Wednesday to amend the law, which will also nullify votes from overseas and displaced persons’ camps in four Sunni-majority provinces.