Recount shows Iraq’s Sadr retains election victory

An Iraqi man celebrates with a picture of Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr during the general election in Baghdad on May 14, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 10 August 2018
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Recount shows Iraq’s Sadr retains election victory

  • Iraq’s Independent High Election Commission released the results of the recount on its website early on Friday
  • The IHEC said the results of the recount matched the initial results from 13 of Iraq’s 18 provinces

BAGHDAD: Populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr retained his lead in Iraq’s May parliamentary election, results of a nationwide recount of votes showed on Friday, positioning him to play a central role in forming the country’s next government.
Iraq’s Independent High Election Commission (IHEC) released the results of the recount on its website early on Friday. Parliament ordered the recount in June after widespread allegations of fraud cast doubt on the integrity of the ballot.
The IHEC said the results of the recount matched the initial results from 13 of Iraq’s 18 provinces.
The winning parties are still embroiled in negotiations over forming the next governing coalition three months after the vote, with no sign of an imminent conclusion.
The recount did not alter the initial results significantly, with Sadr keeping his tally of 54 seats.
A group of Iran-backed Shiite militia leaders remained second behind Sadr’s bloc but gained an extra seat that pushed them to 48, with incumbent Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi’s bloc still in third place with 42 seats.
Abadi, who is seeking a second term in office, is heading a fragile caretaker government until a new one is formed.
The political uncertainty over the makeup of the new government has raised tensions at a time when public impatience is growing over poor basic services, unemployment and the slow pace of rebuilding after a three-year war with the Islamic State militant group.
Anger is mounting with frequent protests, backed by Iraq’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, taking place in the Shiite southern provinces.
Sadr, who also backs the protests, has issued a list of 40 conditions he says the new prime minister has to meet, including being politically independent and not running for re-election, for his bloc to join a governing coalition and that he would go into opposition if the conditions were not met.

Recount

The manual recount has been politically contentious from the start, although it was never expected to widely alter the results.
The IHEC said on Monday it had completed the recount but was forced to cut the process short in the capital, Baghdad, because voting records had been destroyed by a warehouse fire two months ago.
The fire broke out hours after parliament ordered the recount and suspended the electoral commission’s leadership, replacing it with a panel of judges, after a government report concluded there were serious violations in an initial count using an electronic vote-counting system.
The digitised system was intended to help regulate and speed up vote-counting. However, critics have claimed the tabulation system in electronic voting machines that were used for the first time were not secure enough from tampering.
The IHEC ignored an anti-corruption body’s warnings about the credibility of the electronic machines used in the election, a document seen by Reuters showed.
The devices, provided by South Korean company Miru Systems under a deal with the IHEC, are at the heart of fraud allegations that led to the manual recount.
Concerns about the election count center on discrepancies in the tallying of votes by the voting machines, mainly in the Kurdish province of Sulaimaniya and the ethnically mixed province of Kirkuk, and suggestions that the devices could have been tampered with or hacked into in order to skew the result.


Turkey bans rally for Kurdish MP on hunger strike

A member of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) reacts next to policemen during a demonstration in solidarity with a HDP lawmaker on hunger strike in the Turkish city of Diyarbakir, on February 15, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 16 February 2019
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Turkey bans rally for Kurdish MP on hunger strike

  • Ocalan, one of the founders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has waged a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, has not been allowed to see his lawyers since 2011

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey: Turkish police on Friday prevented supporters from rallying outside the home of a pro-Kurdish lawmaker on hunger strike for 100 days.
The protest bid coincides with the 20th anniversary of the capture of Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is jailed in a notorious prison island near Istanbul.
Leyla Guven of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), launched her action on Nov. 8 while in jail to protest against Ocalan’s prison conditions.
She was freed last month under judicial supervision but continued her protest, refusing any treatment. Guven, 55, is consuming only sugared or salted water.
Police on Friday blocked supporters from approaching Guven’s house in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir after a rally called by the HDP, an AFP correspondent said.
“The biggest task ahead of us today is to turn every aspect of life into an arena for struggle and support hunger strikes at the highest level,” HDP MP Dilan Dirayet Tasdemir said.
“This dark picture and severe conditions of fascism can only be broken through our organized struggle,” Tasdemir said.
More than 200 prisoners are on hunger strike to protest what they call Ocalan’s isolation, according to the HDP.
Ocalan, one of the founders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has waged a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, has not been allowed to see his lawyers since 2011.
The PKK is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.
Ocalan was caught in Kenya outside the Greek Embassy in Nairobi on Feb. 15, 1999 by Turkish secret service agents after attempting to seek asylum in Europe.
Turkish authorities last month allowed Ocalan’s brother Mehmet to see him, the first visit in over two years.