On Wednesday, May 30, Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) announced it would annul the results of 1021 polling places for the May 12 parliamentary vote due to fraud. The annulled locations include 954 polling places within Iraq and 67 abroad. This decision comes after the IHEC sent technical teams to review the results and manually recount a small percentage of ballots following accusations of fraud from various political parties.
These voting irregularities and annulments could foment political unrest in affected areas. Heightened security measures and transportation disruptions are expected near any gatherings. In the event of protests or demonstrations, clashes between the police and protesters cannot be ruled out.
On May 24, Iraq's cabinet formed a committee to review any breaches or violations into the elections following reports of possible electronic rigging. Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi rejected calls to annul the vote results on May 29, criticizing the IHEC's statements and suggesting the possibility of a "civil war" should the results be annulled. According to the election results, the Sairoun Alliance - headed by Moqtada Al-Sadr and comprised of his Progressive Reform party and Iraq's Communist party - won more than 1.3 million votes in the May 12 election, gaining 54 seats in the 329-seat parliament. None of the competing blocs won a majority in parliament nor have the ability to name a prime minister alone.
Individuals in Iraq are advised to closely monitor the situation. The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas with proper security protocols in place, other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.
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