In Iraq, banned Sunni candidates back in the race
A ban on hundreds of (mostly Sunni) candidates in Iraq was lifted Wednesday. The ban was reversed after senior Sunni politicians threatened to boycott the March 7 national election.
An Iraqi appeals commission has lifted a ban on hundreds of candidates, allowing them to run in the March 7 elections. But if the ruling stands, there's a catch: those blacklisted will still be subject to investigation after the vote for past ties to the regime of Saddam Hussein.Skip to next paragraph
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Senior Sunni politicians had threatened to boycott the election after a controversial process which banned more than 500 people, for everything from Baath Party membership to intelligence agency links.
“They have the right to run in the election,” said Hamdiyeh al-Husseini of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) Wednesday. The appeals court would examine their files after the vote, and any links mean “they will be eliminated,” according to Agence France-Presse.
The ruling sparked further controversy, with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Dawa Party declaring that the appeals commission could only rule on individual cases, but not order a blanket lifting of the ban.
“We have heard that such a decision has been made by the appeals commission, but we have not received anything official yet,” says Judge Qassim al-Aboudi, an executive officer of the IHEC.
Credibility of election threatened
“I myself am not in favor of a boycott; there is nothing to gain from that, and everything to lose,” says Saleh al-Mutlaq, the leader of the second largest Sunni party in Iraq, who was among hundreds of politicians banned from elections in a controversial de-Baathification process.
“As a result of this [banning] maneuver, Sunnis will be marginalized in national elections yet again,” Mr. al-Mutlaq told the Monitor. “Repercussions could be serious. If the people find they cannot work for the required change through political means, in their frustration they may turn to any other means at their disposal and create a situation of chaos once again.”
Sectarian and civil war surged across Iraq, especially after the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra in February 2006 contributed to record death tolls of 3,000 per month and ethnic cleansing of many neighborhoods in Baghdad.
Minority Sunnis ruled Iraq under Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party for three decades, but the 2003 American invasion paved the way for domination by the 60 percent majority Shiites.