Campaigning for the March 2010 parliamentary election was supposed to start on February 7, but that was postponed because of the on-going drama of the banned candidates for alleged Baathist ties. On February 3 the Election Commission announced that all of the banned candidates could run, after a seven-judge panel said that their appeals would be dealt with after the voting. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki immediately condemned the decision, declaring that the panel had no authority over the Election Commission. He called for a special session of parliament on February 7 to deal with the issue.
As that day approached, the situation intensified. First, the Prime Minister accused U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill of interfering in Iraq’s internal affairs by influencing the judges. Second, the legal committee in parliament demanded that Vice President Tariq Hashemi be included in the deBaathification process for allegedly glorifying the Baath party while he was visiting Washington D.C. Third, the head of the Accountability and Justice Commission, which took over the duties of the deBaathification Commission, filed a lawsuit against banned parliamentarian Saleh al-Mutlaq for criticizing the Commission. Finally, Maliki’s Dawa party organized protests against Baathists in Baghdad and Basra, Iraq’s two largest cities, while a third demonstration was held in Dhi Qar province. All of these were acts of brinkmanship by Iraq’s politicians, who have never shied away from threatening to make a bad situation worse.
The crisis has leveled off a bit after Maliki met with the country’s top judge and leaders of parliament, and the Presidential Council asked the seven-judge panel to change its decision. Afterward, the panel agreed to go through all of the banned candidates cases one by one before the election. They said they would be done by February 12, which is the new date set to start campaigning for the March election. By February 8, they claimed to have gone through 30% of the candidates so far. This has the potential to finally diffuse the situation, but it could also drag the process out if the judges aren’t able to finish their work on time, or if the Shiite parties complain once again that candidates they don’t like are allowed to participate in the election.
AK News, “Iraq in stalemate of appeals commission,” 2/8/10
- “Iraqi List criticized the Accountability and Justice commission,” 2/8/10
Alsumaria, “Appeals panel backtracks Iraq poll decision,” 2/8/10
- “Maliki discusses Iraq appeals panel decision,” 2/5/10
Aswat al-Iraq, “Hundreds in Baghdad, Basra protest Baathists’ return,” 2/7/10
- “IHEC says all banned candidates to run in election,” 2/3/10
- “MP proposes debaathification to cover VP Hashemi,” 2/6/10
- “Parl. Cancels extraordinary session,” 2/8/10
- “Political prisoners foundation in Thi-Qar protests against Cassation Board’s decision,” 2/8/10
Myers, Steven Lee, “Ban on Hundreds of Iraqi Candidates Overturned,” New York Times, 2/4/10
- “Iraqi Court Given Time to Review Candidates,” New York Times, 2/8/10
Visser, Reidar, “Reinstated, for the Time Being,” Iraq and Gulf Analysis, 2/3/10
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