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Iraqi Warehouse Storing Election Ballots Burns


Smoke rises from a storage site in Baghdad, housing ballot boxes from Iraq's May parliamentary election, June 10, 2018.

A Baghdad warehouse storing ballot boxes from Iraq's parliamentary election caught fire Sunday, bolstering calls for a revote.

Firefighters rushed to the scene and put out the blaze in one of four buildings storing the ballots and voting equipment as election officials carried boxes away from the scene.

The officials say it is unlikely any of the ballot boxes were destroyed. They say a parliament-ordered recount of the votes should not be affected.

The cause of the fire is unknown. However, the outgoing speaker of parliament, Salim al-Jabouri, said it was deliberate.

"The crime of burning ballot-box storage warehouses ... is a deliberate act, a planned crime aimed at hiding instances of fraud and manipulation of votes, lying to the Iraqi people, and changing their will and choices," he said.

Al-Jabouri lost his parliamentary seat and is demanding the election be run again.

The coalition headed by anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr won the most votes in last month's parliamentary election, leading to immediate cries of fraud by some veteran Iraqi politicians.

Parliament called for a recount last week after Iraqi intelligence concluded that tests of electronic voting machines being used for the first time in Iraq produced varied and inconsistent results. Losing candidates said this bears out their charges of fraud.