Candidate bans worsen Iraq’s political turmoil

Candidate bans worsen Iraq’s political turmoil

Iraqi officials have done little to clarify who, exactly, has been disqualified from running for Parliament in March because of ties to Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party. They did, however, make clear on Sunday that, contrary to Iraqi television news, the government’s own spokesman was not among those declared a Baathist and therefore unfit for office.

The fate of the country’s defense minister was another matter. So was that of dozens of members of a political alliance led by one of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s top rivals, Jawad al-Bolani, the interior minister since 2006.

More than a week after Iraq’s Accountability and Justice Commission first announced that it had disqualified at least 15 parties to run for Parliament, it remained unclear how many candidates out of more than 6,000 who have registered would be excluded — and which ones had been. [continued…]

Iraq’s ban on democracy

With Washington’s attention understandably focused on the tragedy in Haiti, Iraq has slipped onto the back burner. Yet there is a major problem brewing there — one that could jeopardize President Obama’s plan to draw down American forces and even reignite sectarian conflict.

Last Thursday, Iraq’s Independent High Election Commission upheld a ban on nearly 500 Sunni politicians handed down (possibly illegally) some days earlier by the Accountability and Justice Commission. They were accused of having had ties to the Baath Party of Saddam Hussein. Among those proscribed from running in the nationwide elections scheduled for March 7 were Defense Minister Abdul-Kader Jassem al-Obeidi and Saleh al-Mutlaq, one of Iraq’s most influential Sunni politicians. Although confusion reigns, it is rumored that the brief appeal process will end Tuesday and, at present, it seems unlikely to ameliorate the situation. [continued…]

3 explosions rock holy Shiite city in Iraq

Three explosions ripped through the city of Najaf on Thursday, just hundreds of yards from one of the holiest sites in Shiite Islam.

Two homemade bombs detonated just five minutes apart about 5:30 p.m. in an open-air fish-and-vegetable market. Police found another bomb inside a garbage truck. As they tried to defuse it, a bomb in a car parked nearby exploded, ripping through the crowd, said police Capt. Hadi al-Najafi. [continued…]

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