Iraqi panel invalidates votes for 52 candidates - UPDATED

An Iraqi review panel invalidated the votes of 52 candidates of the March election, officials said.

Iraqi panel invalidates votes for 52 candidates - UPDATED

An Iraqi review panel on Monday threw the results of a March election into question by invalidating votes cast for 52 candidates, officials said, casting a shadow over the slim lead of a Sunni-backed alliance.

It barred hundreds of election candidates, both Sunni and Shiite, whom it accused of having links to the regime of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

One of the names barred for alleged ties to Saddam Hussein's banned Baath party was a winner in the March 7 ballot for the cross-sectarian bloc of ex-premier Iyad Allawi, which rode strong Sunni support to gain a two-seat lead in the election.

Allawi's allies said they did not think the final election result would change. Under Iraq's electoral system, a candidate barred by the panel might conceivably be replaced by a member of the same party.

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

Electoral officials and other politicians said a more significant ruling might come on Tuesday, when the panel considers the fate of six to nine winning candidates. The bloc that could benefit the most from any change in the result is Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law coalition, which won 89 seats, just two behind Iraqiya's 91.

"This decision (of the review panel) builds a wall between the political parties when they should be getting closer to forming a government quickly," said Khamis al-Badri, a professor of political science at Baghdad University.

"This decision at this time will not be good for the political process."

Hamdiya al-Husseini, a member of Iraq's independent electoral commission, said Monday's ruling by the panel was not final as the affected candidates had a month to appeal.

Only 28 candidates who were among more than 500 originally barred from the election were deemed acceptable by the JAC.

Some parties decided to present alternative candidates in the election and it is from among them that Monday's 52 new exclusions came from.


Agencies

Last Mod: 26 Nisan 2010, 17:09
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