By Aref Yousef
The manual recount of votes from last month’s parliamentary election began Saturday in northern Iraq’s Kurdish region, according to the electoral commission.
“The manual recount of votes began this morning by the commission officials,” Mazen Abdelkader, head of the electoral commission in the Kurdish Regional Government, said.
“Representatives of political parties and observers will attend the manual recount of votes,” he said.
Official results of Iraq’s May 12 election have been dogged by controversy and allegations of vote-rigging -- allegations dismissed by the leading coalitions.
On June 6, parliament voted in favor of amending Iraq’s election law, allowing votes to be recounted manually.
Shortly afterward, a panel of judges was appointed to assume the responsibilities of the electoral commission, several members of which were sacked amid widespread allegations of electoral fraud.
Muqtada al-Sadr, an influential politician and Shia cleric, has said that parliament lacks the authority to overturn official election results.
Al-Sadr's Sairoon coalition dominated the May 12 poll, winning 54 parliamentary seats, according to official results. Sairoon was followed by a Hashd al-Shaabi-led coalition (47 seats) and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's Victory Bloc (42 seats).