A storage site housing half of Baghdad\u2019s ballot boxes from Iraq\u2019s parliamentary election in May has caught fire, just days after parliament demanded a nationwide recount of votes, drawing calls for the election to be re-run.\r\nAn Interior Ministry spokesman said later the fire was confined to one of four warehouses at the site. State television said the ballot boxes were being moved to another location under heavy security.\r\nAuthorities did not say whether they believed the fire was deliberately set, but its timing undermined the results of an election whose validity was already in doubt. Fewer than 45 percent of voters cast a ballot, a record low, and allegations of fraud began almost immediately after the vote.\r\nPrime Minister Haider al-Abadi, whose electoral alliance came third in the election, said on Tuesday that a government investigation had found serious violations and blamed Iraq\u2019s independent elections commission for most of them.\r\nParliament mandated a full manual recount the next day. The Independent High Elections Commission had used electronic vote- counting devices to tally the results.\r\nA recount could undermine nationalist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a long-time adversary of the United States whose bloc won the largest number of seats in the election. One of Sadr\u2019s top aides expressed concern that some parties were trying to sabotage the cleric\u2019s victory.\r\nSalim al-Jabouri, the outgoing speaker of parliament, said the fire showed the election should be repeated.\r\n\u201cThe crime of burning ballot-box storage warehouses in the Rusafa area is a deliberate act, a planned crime, aimed at hiding instances of fraud and manipulation of votes, lying to the Iraqi people and changing their will and choices,\u201d he said in a statement.\r\nJabouri narrowly lost his seat in May and had been one of the strongest proponents of a recount before the fire. His call was seconded by Vice President Iyad Allawi, the leader of the electoral alliance Jabouri ran as part of.\r\nTop Sadr aide Dhiaa al-Asadi said the fire was a plot aimed at forcing a repeat of the election and hiding fraud.\r\n\u201cWhoever burned the election equipment and document storage site had two goals: either cancelling the election or destroying the stuffed ballots counted amongst the results,\u201d he tweeted.\r\nJUDICIAL TAKEOVER\r\nThe fire took place at a Trade Ministry site in Baghdad where the election commission stored the ballot boxes from al-Rusafa, the half of Baghdad on the eastern side of the Tigris river. Baghdad is Iraq\u2019s most populous province, accounting for 71 seats out of the Iraqi parliament\u2019s 329.\r\nThe site was divided into four warehouses, said Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Saad Maan. Only one - housing electronic equipment and documents - had burned down, he said.\r\nFirefighters were trying to stop the fire from spreading to the remaining three warehouses, where the ballot boxes are stored, he said.\r\n\u201cIt is possible there were also some ballot boxes in the warehouse that caught fire, but most of the important boxes are in the three warehouses, where the fire has been controlled,\u201d he said in a video message from the site of the fire.\r\nThe law mandating a manual recount also mandated the board of the election commission be replaced by judges. Earlier on Sunday, the Supreme Judicial Council, Iraq\u2019s highest judicial authority, named the judges who will take over replace the commissioners.\r\nThe council also named judges to replace the commission\u2019s local chiefs in each of Iraq\u2019s 18 provinces, another measure mandated by parliament.\r\nThe board of commissioners has said it would appeal against the law forcing the recount.