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U.N. tells Iraq to investigate complains into its elections

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Kurdish supporters of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) celebrate after the closing of ballot boxes during the parliamentary election in Kirkuk, Iraq, on May 12, 2018. (REUTERS/Ako Rasheed)
By Reuters 
  • Partial results for the May 12 poll show the Marching Towards Reform alliance of Moqtada Sadr and communists ahead in six of Iraq’s 18 provinces and second in four.
  • Several complaints have been lodged in Kirkuk, a multiethnic province that the central government has recently taken over from the Kurds.

BAGHDAD: The UN on Thursday called for Iraq’s electoral commission to “immediately and fully” investigate complaints by candidates and parties over the conduct of this month’s legislative elections.

“The commission has to act expeditiously in order to seriously address all complaints,” the UN’s envoy to Iraq, Jan Kubis, said.

Partial results for the May 12 poll show the Marching Towards Reform alliance of Moqtada Sadr and communists ahead in six of Iraq’s 18 provinces and second in four.

Preliminary tallies also put the Conquest Alliance of pro-Iranian former paramilitary fighters who helped battle Daesh next, followed by incumbent Prime Minister Haider Abadi’s bloc. But the exact number of seats won by each bloc in Parliament is still unknown.

The head of Iraq’s Independent Higher Election Commission Riyadh Al-Badran speaks during a news conference in Baghdad on May 16, 2018. (REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily)

The UN cited partial recounts in some locations, including Kirkuk.

“It is important these are undertaken in full transparency, witnessed by stakeholders, to strengthen… confidence in the process,” said Kubis.

Several complaints have been lodged in Kirkuk, a multiethnic province that the central government has recently taken over from the Kurds.

Disputes between Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen communities led to a curfew being imposed in Kirkuk city on the night of the vote, with clashes and sit-in protests.

“I also call on all political actors to uphold the peace and to remain committed to resolving any electoral disputes through the established legal channels,” Kubis added.

Former Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, whose Rule of Law Alliance trails behind the top three blocs in the partial results, has called for the commission to recount votes or cancel the elections.

The vote, the first in Iraq since the government declared victory against the Daesh group in December, is also the first to have taken place without significant political violence since the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.