Iraq's upcoming general election in March was supposed to lead to stability and facilitate the US troop withdrawals scheduled to begin this summer.

But since the Iraqi government decided to disqualify about 500 out of 6,500 candidates - many of them prominent Sunni Muslims - fears of renewed violence have resumed.

Iraq's accountability and justice commission argues that it is rooting out former members of the late Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, but Sunnis say it is a witch-hunt aimed at excluding them from politics.

They say they have been trying for years to find a constructive role in their country, after having dominated power for decades.


Joseph Biden, the US vice president, who has responsibility for overseeing US policy on Iraq, recently met with the leaders of the Shia-led government to convince them to rescind their exclusion of "suspected Baathists," but so far Baghdad has held its ground.

On Tuesday, Riz speaks with Saleh al-Mutlaq, one of Iraq's most prominent Sunni politicians and one of those candidates barred from running in the election.

This episode of the Riz Khan show aired on Tuesday, February 2, 2010.

Source: Al Jazeera