Iraq leaders seek ruling on barred poll candidates

BAGHDAD- Iraqi leaders on Saturday urged a panel of seven judges to issue a final ruling on 500 candidates barred from running in next month's general elections, before campaigning starts next week.
On Wednesday the electoral commission announced the judges had ruled that the candidates -- who have alleged links to the outlawed Baath party of executed dictator Saddam Hussein -- can stand in the March 7 polls.

Iraq leaders seek ruling on barred poll candidates
The judges decided to reinstate the barred candidates, saying they would examine their files after the polls and would eliminate them if they were found to be Baathists.
The move triggered the ire of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki who has convened parliament to debate on Sunday what his government considers an "illegal" decision.
A statement from Maliki's office on Saturday said leaders had "agreed on the need to resolve the issue of those barred (from the elections) according to the law."
The statement was released after a meeting between Maliki, Supreme Court chief Madhat al-Hammud, parliament speaker Iyad al-Samarrai, deputy speaker Khaled al-Attiya and Deputy Prime Minister Roz Nuri Shawis.
The officials also decided "to ask the magistrates to issue a ruling based on the evidence they were given and to accomplish their duty before campaigning starts" on February 12, the statement said.
The blacklist was compiled last month by an integrity and accountability committee, sparking tensions between the country's Shiite majority and its Sunni Arab former elite.
It includes -- both Sunnis and Shiites -- suspected Baathists and alleged members of Saddam's once deadly Fedayeen (Men of Sacrifice) militia and Mukhabarat intelligence division.
The March 7 election, the second in Iraq since Saddam's ouster, is seen as a test of reconciliation between the Sunni minority dominant under the former dictator and the Shiite majority represented by the present government.

Sunday, February 7th 2010

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