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Middle East
Iraq 'bars politician from polls'
Saleh al-Mutlaq reportedly disqualified from contesting on grounds of Baath Party links.
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2010 13:56 GMT
Al-Mutlaq has accused al-Maliki of being a pawn in the hands of neighbouring Iran [AFP]

An Iraqi parliamentary committee has reportedly prevented a prominent Sunni Muslim politician from running in elections due to his alleged connections with the deposed government of Saddam Hussein.

Ali Faysal Allami, the executive director of the Accountability and Justice Committee, has been quoted in the Iraqi media as saying that his panel disqualified on Thursday Salah al-Mutlaq's party from running in the March 7 vote because he had allegedly promoted Saddam's Baath Party.

The Baath party is banned in Iraq.

But speaking to Al Jazeera on Friday, al-Mutlaq said there was no basis for this decision and that the reasons for it had not been communicated to him.

"How am I connected to the Baath party? Ali Faysal should be the one to be banned ... he was an officer in Saddam's army. I was not", he said.

"What kind of democracy is it that a political party can be removed from election lists just by throwing the name 'Baathist' at it without any evidence?".

Decision appeal

The committee, formerly referred to as the De-Baathification Committee, is responsible for vetting parliamentary candidates for the forthcoming election for ties to the former regime.

It was not immediately clear whether al-Mutlaq would be able to take part in the election since he does have the right to appeal the decision, though he told Al Jazeera he will take the issue to the United Nations.

Al-Mutlaq is one of the country's most popular Sunni politicians who fared well during the provincial elections a year ago.

He has repeatedly attacked Nuri al-Maliki's government, saying that they have targeted his party and followers in an attempt to keep the group from doing well during the vote.

Al-Mutlaq, who is from the predominantly Sunni city of Falluja in Iraq's Anbar province, has also accused the al-Maliki of being a pawn of neighbouring Iran.

This year many Sunni Muslim political parties are expected to take part in the vote.

But if al-Mutlaq is barred from the vote, it could lead to widespread Sunni unrest and disillusionment with the political process.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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