Friday, February 5, 2010

Iraq: Lifting ban on 500 candidates causes turmoil, third attack on Arbaeen pilgrims kills at least 31

The Iraqi government called on Thursday for a special session of parliament and branded as illegal an appeals panel decision to suspend a ban on candidates suspected of ties to an outlawed party until after an election.
Also the start of the campaign for the election of 7 March is postponed from 7 February till 13 February in order to give the high court time to consider whether the suspension of the ban is illegal or not. 

The appeals panel said on Wednesday that candidates barred by the Justice and Accountability Commission -- set up to ensure Saddam Hussein's Baath party did not return to public life -- could stand in the poll, but would still have a case to answer. That seem to have caused an uproar in the shiíte parties, the Iraqi National
 Alliance (which consists of the Sadrists and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq among others) and prmime minister Nuri al-Mailiki's own coalition. "Postponing implementing the law of the Justice and Accountability Commission until after the election is illegal and not constitutional," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement on his website.
It was unclear if the government could contest the panel's decision -- much of the process of banning the candidates has involved creative interpretations of the law and the legality of the commission that drew up the list is also in question.
Hamdiya al-Husseini, an official with the Independent High Electoral Commission, said the body had asked a high court to rule on whether it was required to abide by the panel's decision, and that the start of campaigning would be delayed.
"The (start of) election campaigning has been postponed from February 7 to February 12 to give time to the federal court to look into our inquiry," she told Reuters by telephone.
Officials said Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had called on lawmakers to discuss the dispute in parliament, which would meet on Sunday in an extraordinary session.
The 500 banned candidates were mainly - but not exclusively - Sunni, what might jeopardize a fair outcome of the upcomming elections. Particularly the US, which is planning to  withdraw its troops in the course of 2010, seemd to be concerned about the ban.

Twin car bombs killed more than 40 people and wounded at least 95 on Friday in Iraq's holy city of Kerbala as hundreds of thousands of Shi'ite pilgrims observed a major religious rite, hospital sources said.
The attack on the final and most important day of the Arbain festival was the third major strike this week against Shi'ite pilgrims amid a political furor over the banning of candidates, many of them Sunnis, from a March 7 election.

No comments: