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Iraq names judges to take over elections commission

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council, the highest judicial authority, named judges on Sunday tasked with taking over the country’s elections commission following allegations of widespread violations in a May parliamentary election.

FILE PHOTO: Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission staff members distribute ballot boxes and polling materials to polling stations in Basra, Iraq May 6, 2018. REUTERS/Essam al-Sudani File Photo

Parliament on Wednesday passed a law that mandated a nationwide manual recount of votes from the election. The law called for the Independent High Elections Commission’s leadership to be replaced by nine judges.

“The Supreme Judicial Council’s meeting saw the naming of the judges nominated to take over the duties of the board of commissioners of the Independent High Elections Commission,” Judge Abdul-Sattar al-Birqdar said in a statement.

The board of commissioners have said they would appeal against the law.

The recount was approved by parliament a day after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who’s bloc came third in the election, said there had been serious violations and that most of the blame lay with the elections commission.

The move could undermine nationalist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a long-time adversary of the United States who also opposes Iran’s sway in Iraq and who’s bloc won the largest amount of seats in the election. One of Sadr’s top aides expressed concerns that some parties were trying to sabotage the cleric’s victory.

Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Alexandra Hudson

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