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Did Cambridge Analytica manipulate the Iraq elections?

Published: Updated:

Prominent Iraqi politician Waddah al-Sadid denied the validity of an audio recording of two phone calls between him and former MP Shatha Abbousi that was leaked on the news site al-Aalem al-Jadeed which accused them of trying to manipulate the final election results in May.

According to the recording, senior political figures and militias interfered in the results when the al-Sadid asked Abbousi to reach out to British political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, to help him obtain a parliamentary seat in exchange for $250,000.

Al-Aalem al-Jadeed reported that a number of officials from the Popular Crowd Forces also influenced the final election results through agreements with the firm in exchange for large sums of money. Several parliamentarians were said to have previously accused one another of buying and selling parliamentary seats but they did not have any evidence to prove it.

The Iraqi Islamic Party, who Abbousi formerly represented, denied their involvement.

Inn a statement in regards to the leaked recording, the party said that Abbousi is not a member of the party and no longer has ties to them, regardless of the validity of the telephone call.

Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission also denied in a statement the accusations, and confirmed it will file a lawsuit against Abbousi and al-Sadid if the recording is found to be true.

The commission added that all electronic devices were used in polling stations across Iraq were checked thoroughly to ensure the results were safe from hackers and accurate. The statement noted that the manual counts and the counts from electronic devices matched and were supervised by international organizations.

The commission also added that if the audio recording is verified then it is part of a scam planned by Abbousi to take a large sum of money from al-Sadid under the pretext that she would help him win the election.

The commission’s statement also expressed doubts about the validity of the recording since Abbousi did not help former Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament Salim al-Jabouri, whom she worked closely with, win the election.