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Middle East
Iraq politicians struck from poll
Fifty-two candidates, including two who won seats, barred seven weeks after elections.
Last Modified: 04 May 2010 20:09 GMT
Veteran Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi led the judicial panel which investigated links the candidates [Getty]

Iraqi electoral authorities have said that 52 candidates who stood in parliamentary elections in March should have been barred from taking part.

Two candidates who won parliamentary seats were among those struck from the ballot on Monday for alleged ties to the Baath party of Saddam Hussein, the former president.

"Their participation in the election is considered cancelled," Ali Mahmud, a spokesman for a three-member judicial panel organised by the Independent High Electoral Commission, said.

"The appeal panel has rejected appeals from the 52 candidates, which the justice and accountability panel discovered."

One of the disqualified candidates is a member of the secular Iraqiya coalition, led by former prime minister Iyad Allawi, that came out two seats ahead of the bloc led by Nouri al-Maliki, the incumbent prime minister, in the March 7 parliamentary polls.

Saddam ties

Officials have said that they do not believe that the outcome of the polls will be dramatically affected.

Iraq's electoral law states that a disqualified elected politician may be replaced by a colleague from the same party.

"I don't think this would affect the number of seats for the bloc," Saad al-Rawi, one of nine commissioners at the Independent High Electoral Commission, said.

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"Iraqiya got millions of votes, 5,000 or 10,000 votes [less] would not affect it."

However, Allawi criticised the panel's decision and vowed to fight the ruling.

"We have instructed lawyers to appeal against the panel's decision," he said.

"I am sure we will be successful.

"Frankly, we are very worried... the political process is now in the hands of a group of people from the Iraqi judiciary. They pass or reverse decisions to their liking."

The panel, chaired by Ahmed Chalabi, a former deputy prime minister, was established in response to a request by a candidate vetting committee to check ties to the government of Saddam Hussein.

Political dominance

Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna, in the capital Baghdad, said that those disqualified will not be able to take up public office.

"They now have a month's grace in which to appeal against the commission's decision.

"But to be very clear about it the impact on the formation of a government with this announcement is likely to be minimal. 

"None of the blocs were able to get an alliance big enough to have dominance in parliament before this.

"The fact that one or two of the seats is lost in this particular process will have no relevance whatsoever on those ongoing attempts to form a majority in parliament."

The panel is due to make another rulilng on Tuesday over six to nine winning candidates, which politicians and electoral officials have said could be more crucial to the poll outcome.

Al-Maliki's bloc stands to benefit most from any significant changes.

The Iraqiya coalition won 91 parliamentary seats in the elections, compared to the 89 seats won by al-Maliki bloc, but a recount expected to begin in Baghdad next week could alter the result.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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