Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Appeals Court To Go Through Banning Cases Before Iraq’s March Election

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.

SOURCES

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

4 comments:

Jason said...

This, like many other things, should have been anticipated, and clearly established concepts of due process should have been enshrined in law for barring candidates, so that it can not be done for raw political power. It's not too late. In fact it would be a great opportunity for the courts to assert its power and lay down the requirements of due process. Any attempt to ban a candidate at this late stage in the election process should be kicked out on the simple grounds that due process requires a reasonable time and opportunity for the candidates to present a defense.

Joel Wing said...

Unfortunately there is no real due process in Iraq. The A&J commission wasn't even appointed and yet everyone is following their lead. If someone says what they do is legal and others follow then that's all they need. That doesn't mean the elections won't happen or the government will suddenly collapse, but it shows that voting doesn't make a country a democracy and Iraq still has a lot to work on.

AndrewSshi said...

"Has a lot to work on" is something of an understatement. I'm curious as to how Iraq will ever transfer to a more or less normal democracy with endemic terrorism, being the fourth most corrupt country on the planet earth, and the meddling of the Islamic Republic.

Joel Wing said...

I think it's still an open question about what Iraq will look like in the future. I would assume that they will continue with elections but the other parts of democracy may never devlope. For example, as long as the justice system is based upon confessions it's going to be hard to stop the police from beating people. The government also keeps on talking about putting more limits on the press, etc

I always think of Nigeria when I think about a future Iraq. It has elections, it has oil, it's got a big population, but it's thoroughly corrupt, has groups that oppose the government, and it's got a lot of poor and struggling people making it a rather typical developing country.

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