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Iraqi PM rejects calls for election re-run

Abadi says anyone who tried to sabotage the political process in the country will be punished.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has rejected demands of any repeat of the May 12 parliamentary election, warning that anyone who tried to sabotage the political process will be punished.

"The elections were held, there's no turning back. We have to move forward in order to form a new government," Abadi said on Tuesday.

Abadi was referring to some calls by Iraqi MPs to cancel the election results and hold new polls after a fire broke out at Baghdad's largest storage site for ballot boxes on Sunday.

Abadi called the fire a deliberate act and said the attorney general would bring charges against those who are trying to undermine the political process.

He also pointed out that only the Supreme Federal Court could decide whether to re-run the vote, which was won by Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr's bloc.

On Monday, Sadr urged Iraqis to unite rather than squabble over a possible re-run of the election, in a message apparently meant to lower the political temperature after a ballot box storage depot caught fire.

An Iraqi court ordered the arrest of four people accused of setting fire to the storage site, the judiciary said. Three of them were policemen and the fourth was an employee of the Independent High Elections Commission.

Sadr and al-Amiri's political alliance

Sadr and Iranian-backed militia chief Hadi al-Amiri, who won first and second place respectively in Iraq's May parliamentary election, announced on Tuesday an alliance between their political blocs.

The move announced from the Shia holy city of Najaf is the first serious step towards forming a new government after weeks of negotiations between parties. It comes exactly one month after an election marred by historically low turnout and fraud allegations.

The two Shia figures said they would keep the door open for other winning blocs to join them in forming a new government.

"Our meeting was a very positive one, we met to end the suffering of this nation and of the people. Our new alliance is a nationalist one," Sadr said.

Sadr has emerged as a nationalist opponent of powerful Shia Muslim parties allied with neighbouring Iran and as a champion of the poor.

Amiri, a fluent Persian speaker, is Iran's closest ally in Iraq, having spent two years in exile there during the era of Saddam Hussein.


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