Iraqis march to denounce electoral fraud as 1,300 appeals are filed against election results
Iraq's electoral authorities say that resolving all of the appeals will take 17 days, at which point final results will be announced
By News Desk - October 20 2021

(Photo credit: @IraqLiveUpdate)

Hundreds marched in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on 19 October to protest against the alleged fraud they say marred parliamentary elections held earlier this month.

The protesters gathered near the entrance to Baghdad’s Green Zone where Iraqi authorities deployed a heavy military presence and restricted access to ID holders only.

Local reports also indicate that as the protesters began arriving to the area, the US embassy activated the C-RAM Defense System, as sirens went off in the complex and three experimental shots were fired in the air.

Tensions have been brewing in Iraq since the release of preliminary results of the legislative elections held on 10 October, which showed the Sairoon coalition, led by influential Shia Muslim scholar Muqtada al-Sadr, winning a reported 73 seats in the 329-member parliament.

Al-Sadr’s coalition is followed by the Taqaddum (progress) bloc, a Sunni faction headed by Parliament Speaker Mohamed al-Halbousi, with 37 seats.

The State of Law bloc led by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki came third with 34 seats in parliament, followed by the Kurdistan Democratic Party with 32 seats, while independents won 40 seats.

Meanwhile, the Fatah Alliance, made up of several Shia groups affiliated with Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), saw its parliament seats drop from 48 to between 12 and 14, raising concerns nationwide about the validity of the vote count.

Following the announcement by the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) several parties raised concerns that the ballots had been manipulated, with the Fatah and State of Law Alliances as well as the Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Kataeb Hezbollah parties saying they would take “all measures to prevent manipulation.”

Calls opposing the announced results have continued across the country, most recently with Sadruddin Qubanchi, a senior cleric in the city of Najaf, claiming that the votes “were counted in the UAE” and that “violation of the elections is more than definite.”

Although Muqtada al-Sadr has close ties with Iran’s political and religious leadership, he is publicly critical of both Iranian and US influence in the country, most recently condemning the flow of Iranian arms to Shia resistance groups in Iraq.

The IHEC revealed on 19 October that they received 1,300 appeals opposing the results of the elections, with a spokesman saying that: “After 17 days, and after all the submitted appeals are resolved, the final results of the early parliamentary elections will be announced.”

However, IHEC officials have also said they believe final results are unlikely to differ from the numbers that have been announced so far.

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