Iraq election results roiled by disqualifications

Guardian:

Iraq's election results have been thrown into further doubt after 52 candidates were disqualified, threatening the slight lead of challenger Ayad Allawi and risking heightened sectarian tensions.

Two candidates were ruled out on grounds of links to the outlawed Ba'ath party by a judicial review panel of the independent electoral commission. Both were elected for Allawi's Iraqiya list, which won two seats more than the State of Law bloc led by Nouri al-Maliki, the incumbent prime minister, in the 7 March polls. Spokesmen for Iraqiya said they would be replaced by members of the same list.

Observers said they expected a more important decision when the panel rules tomorrow on up to nine more winning candidates. Maliki's list stands to benefit most from any significant changes.

"The ruling of the review panel is politically motivated and could be detrimental to the whole democratic process in Iraq," warned al-Iraqiya's Mustafa al-Hiti.

The commission announced that a partial vote recount would begin next week.

Iraqiya won 91 seats compared with 89 won by al-Maliki's bloc. Allawi's allies have said they do not believe the final outcome will be dramatically different but fear a resurgence of sectarian anger.

The panel, chaired by Ahmed Chalabi, a Shia former deputy prime minister who was close to the US before the 2003 invasion, was set up to examine ties to Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party, dominated by Iraq's Sunni minority.

Iraqiya won 91 seats compared with 89 won by al-Maliki's bloc. Allawi's allies have said they do not believe the final outcome will be dramatically different but fear a resurgence of sectarian anger.

The panel, chaired by Ahmed Chalabi, a Shia former deputy prime minister who was close to the US before the 2003 invasion, was set up to examine ties to Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party, dominated by Iraq's Sunni minority.

...

It is not clear from the story whether Allawi could name new people to take the place of those disqualified or if a special election would be necessary. With Chalabi running the panel the results are probably seen as suspect by Allawi backers including the Sunnis.

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