Iraq election: Victorious candidates may be purged, boosting Maliki
As part of a de-Baathification purge, six candidates who won seats in the Iraq election may be removed. That would cost Iyad Allawi's bloc its narrow victory over incumbent Nouri al-Maliki.
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The 52 in question were replacement candidates for politicians who were banned from running in an earlier purge of more than 400 people, a move that received intense US and international criticism because it occurred largely without due process and was overseen by politicians who were also running in the election. The US military and American Embassy officials were among the critics; Iraqis in charge of de-Baathification accused the Americans of meddling in the affairs of a sovereign nation.Skip to next paragraph
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De-Baathification is overseen by Ahmad Chalabi, the Shiite Muslim former Iraqi exile leader and US favorite who's now friendlier with Iran and won 20,436 votes and a seat in parliament, and Ali Faisal al Lami, who got 989 votes and didn't win a seat, according to the official results. Lami spent a year in a US-run prison before he was released without charges in August 2009.
Last month, Army Gen. Raymond Odierno, the top US military commander in Iraq, said that both men are "clearly influenced by Iran" and have been in close contact with the top Iraqi adviser to the commander of the Quds Force, the special forces arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Lami and Chalabi denied acting on Tehran's orders and called Odierno's remarks "baseless."
"As a constitutional commission, we are charged with making sure that no one who is a Baathist, carries Baathist ideology or is a propagandist for Baathist ideology will ever rise to power, either by becoming a member of the Council of Representatives or by holding public office," Lami said Monday. "We will stop them _ even if they are under the dome of the parliament."
Also Monday, two car bombs exploded in the southern Shiite holy city of Karbala, killing five people and wounding more than 50, Iraqi authorities said. One of the blasts occurred near a busy shopping center; the other bomb targeted a popular restaurant near a government building.
(McClatchy special correspondent Qassim Zein contributed to this article from Najaf, Iraq.)