There are reports coming out of Iraq that only 37 of the more than 500 banned candidates can appeal their cases to a seven-judge panel. Originally 511 candidates were barred from participating in the March 2010 parliamentary elections in January by the Accountability and Justice Commission (the former DeBaathification Commission). Later a few more politicians were added to the list. In early February, the appeals panel said that it would deal with the banned candidates before the election rather than afterward as they originally announced. Officials are now saying that political parties replaced around 300 banned candidates, and that they are now ineligible to have their cases reviewed. Alsumaria TV reported that only 177 banned politicians are left, and that the judges are going through their cases now, having completed 88 so far. Reuters however, notes that of those 177, only 37 lodged their complaints correctly, and the rest have been disqualified.
This is just the latest twist in the drama that is Iraqi politics. The election will continue, and most of the political parties have found substitutes for more than half of their banned candidates, only a few of which were that known to begin with. The campaign for office however, has been hijacked by the National Alliance that controls the Accountability and Justice Commission. They have nothing to run on, so as long as all the talk is about Baathists rather than issues, it suits them well. More importantly, it sets a bad precedent for the future of the country, because it shows that the largest parties can manipulate the entire system to suit their needs, and push around the smaller political entities. Rather than the 2010 ballot being a step forward for Iraq, it could be a reversion to 2005 when sectarianism was one of the driving forces, and the major lists dominated the proceedings.
Alsumaria, “Appeals panel reviews contests of barred candidates,” 2/9/10
Reuters, “Most banned Iraqi poll candidates’ appeals rejected,” 2/9/10
Salloum, Sa’ad, “commission defends election ban,” Niqash, 1/26/10