Iraq amends election law to allow ballot recount

The vote recount comes following widespread allegations of fraud in the May parliamentary elections. The recount could further delay the formation of a new government for the country.

Iraq's parliament on Wednesday voted in favor of amending the country's election law to allow a manual ballot recount for the parliamentary elections held on May 12.

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The move will force Iraq's Independent High Elections Commission (IHEC) to undertake the recount, which it initially declined to do.

The parliament also suspended the IHEC's leadership, with nine judges due to take over.

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An alliance led by influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, an outspoken opponent of the United States and Iran, won the most seats in the May elections, in a major blow to a coalition led by incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

"The Independent High Elections Commission shall commit to a manual recount in all voting centers in Iraq under the supervision of the Supreme Judicial Council and with the attendance of representatives from political groups and the United Nations," the text of the amendment read.

The amendment also canceled the results from both overseas voting and displaced voters in the mainly Sunni provinces of Anbar, Salahudin, Diyala and Nineveh.

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Election results marred by 'fraud and manipulation'

In addition to the recount, the amendment rules out the use of electronic vote counting devices in future elections.

The May vote was the first time Iraq had used an electronic voting system, which was supposed to prevent fraud, but was consequently followed by accusations of violations in some provinces.

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The parliament's decision comes one week after the electoral commission said it had disqualified the results from 1,021 polling stations out of a total of 56,000 because of irregularities.

"This is meant to correct the election results and bring the political process in Iraq back on track after it was proven that fraud and manipulation of vote results took place," parliament member Mohammed Saadoun said.

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law/bw (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)