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

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.


UN says Libyan sides sign countrywide cease-fire deal

Updated 23 October 2020

UN says Libyan sides sign countrywide cease-fire deal

  • Libya is split between a UN-supported government in the capital, Tripoli, and rival authorities based in the east
  • Libya’s prized light crude has long featured in the country’s civil war, with rival militias and foreign powers jostling for control of Africa’s largest oil reserves

GENEVA: The United Nations said Friday that the two sides in Libyan military talks had reached a “historic achievement” with a permanent cease-fire agreement across the war-torn North African country.
After mediation this week led by UN envoy for Libya Stephanie Turco Williams, the 5+5 Joint Military Commission reached what the UN called an “important turning point toward peace and stability in Libya.”
Details were not immediately available, but the two sides were taking part in a signing ceremony in Geneva on Friday morning.
Libya is split between a UN-supported government in the capital, Tripoli, and rival authorities based in the east. The two sides are backed by an array of local militias as well as regional and foreign powers. The country was plunged into chaos after the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
“The road to a permanent cease-fire deal was often long and difficult,” Williams, a former US State Department official, said in Arabic at the signing ceremony.
“Before us is a lot of work in the coming days and weeks in order to implement the commitments of the agreement,” she said. “It is essential to continue work as quickly as possible in order to alleviate the many problems due to this conflict facing the Libyan people.”
“We have to give people hope of a better future,” Williams added. She expressed hope the agreement will succeed “in ending the suffering of Libyans and allowing those displaced by the conflict to return to their homes.”
Ali Abushahma, the head of the delegation and a field commander for the UN-supported administration in Tripoli, said: “We have had enough suffering, enough bloodshed ... We hope we will change the suffering on all the territories of Libya, especially in the south.”
“I appeal to all Libya: Be one hand,” he said, warning about polarization by factions.
The meetings this week mark the fourth round of talks involving the Joint Military Commission under Williams’ watch. The Geneva-based military talks come ahead of a political forum in Tunisia in November. That forum aims to “generate consensus on a unified governance framework and arrangements that will lead to the holding of national elections,” the UN mission said.
On Wednesday, Williams had said the two warring factions agreed on issues that “directly impact the lives and welfare of the Libyan people,” citing agreements to open air and land routes in the country, to work to ease inflammatory rhetoric in Libyan media, and to help kickstart Libya’s vital oil industry.
Libya’s prized light crude has long featured in the country’s civil war, with rival militias and foreign powers jostling for control of Africa’s largest oil reserves.
Last month, the two sides reached preliminary agreements to exchange prisoners and open up air and land transit across the country’s divided territory. This breakthrough also accompanied the resumption of oil production after a months-long blockade by powerful tribes allied with military commander Khalifa Haftar, the leader of the eastern-based forces.
Haftar’s forces launched an offensive in April 2019 to try and capture Tripoli, the seat of the UN-supported government in the west. But his campaign collapsed in June.
Fighting has since died down amid international pressure on both sides to avert an attack on the strategic city of Sirte, the gateway to Libya’s major oil export terminals.