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Middle East
Iraq opposition names candidates
Iraqi National Movement includes politician banned from standing in parliamentary poll.
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2010 11:44 GMT
Mutlaq is on the bloc's candidate list despite being banned from standing in the polls [File: EPA]

A broad secular alliance of Iraqi opposition groups has unveiled its list of candidates to take on the State of Law bloc led by Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, in parliamentary elections in March.

The Iraqi National Movement is led by Ayad Allawi, the Shia Muslim former prime minister, and Tariq al-Hashemi, the current Sunni Muslim vice-president.

"We are a national political entity, committed to serving all Iraqis and we call on them to join us," Rafa al-Essawi, the country's Sunni deputy prime minister, told hundreds of people at a ceremony in Baghdad.

Saleh Mutlaq, another senior member of the new movement, is on a list of 500 candidates provisionally banned from running in the election due to alleged links to the outlawed Baath party of Saddam Hussein, the executed former president.

Mutlaq, who is a fierce critic of al-Maliki, has said that he will appeal against his inclusion on the list.

"This really and frankly is a reflection of politicising the de-Baathification rather than using the judiciary as a yardstick and the law as a yardstick," Allawi said.

"It is being politicised. And all those who have committed or not committed any crimes are treated equally."

Sectarian divide

Critics have said that the list, drawn up by a parliamentary committee, is likely to deepen sectarian divides in the country.

The majority of politicians featured on the list are likely to be Sunni Muslims and critics have said that this will leave Sunni voters feeling targeted and disenfranchised.

Speaking at the launch of the new alliance on Saturday, al-Hashemi criticised al-Maliki for widening the sectarian divide amongst Iraqis.

"He [al-Maliki] has failed to create a state of citizens to replace a state of [religious] communities," he told candidates and onlookers at the launch ceremony at Al-Rasheed Hotel.

The de-Baathification policy removed party members from their jobs during the period after the 2003 invasion, when Iraq was under the control of the US-run Coalition Provisional Authority.

In 2008, the policy was relaxed and thousands of former Baathists who were not involved in past crimes were allowed to take government jobs, but as the polls approach former Baathists are again being singled out.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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