Law, tolerance needed to resolve Iraq's candidate ban row   2010-02-06 18:56:39 FeedbackPrintRSS

by Xinhua Writer Li Laifang

BAGHDAD, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- Top Iraqi leaders are expected to meet on Saturday to discuss a row over an appeals panel's decision to allow some 500 barred candidates to run in the March 7 parliamentary election, which is seen as a crucial test for the war and violence-shattered country's national reconciliation and political process.

On Wednesday, the seven-judge appeals panel appointed by the country's Higher Judicial Council, overturned the ban and decided to put off the review of the cases of barred candidates until after the election. The ban list, submitted early last month by the controversial Accountability and Justice Commission in charge of vetting the candidates, has the names of some prominent Sunni lawmakers including Saleh al-Mutlaq, head of the National Dialogue Front. The party joins with other secular parties to contest the election.

But the overturn decision has aroused much criticism from major Shiite-dominated blocs -- the State of Law coalition led by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the Iraqi National Alliance.

The Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement the postponing of implementing the law of the Accountability and Justice Commission till after the elections is "illegal and unconstitutional".

The Independent High Electoral Commission has asked the supreme court to see whether the overturn decision is effective.

"The decision made by the appeals panel is legal because it was formed by the Iraqi parliament," an Iraqi analyst says." The decision, which prevents Iraq from falling into a serious crisis and paves the way for the election, should be respected."

Actually, from the very beginning, there have been doubts on the legitimacy of the vetting commission as its composition did not get official approval from the parliament. The commission is charged by leading figures of its predecessor -- the "De- Baathification commission" set up after the 2003 war with the purpose of getting rid of members of former president Saddam Hussein's Baath Party from governments, military and other institutions.

The Baath Party was outlawed according to the constitution of Iraq in 2005. And large numbers of its members were cleared out of the government institutions and some of them turned to insurgency. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were forced to join the party for a better life during the Saddam Hussein regime.

On Jan. 21, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said the Presidential Council sent a letter to the head of the Higher Judicial Council seeking a ruling on the legitimacy of the Accountability and Justice Commission. But no response from the council head to the request has been announced.

The Sunni minority in Iraq has been preparing to gain more political say at this year's election, changing their attitude of boycotting it at the 2005 election. Tens of thousands died in the peak of sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007 throughout the country, due to a number of reasons, one of which was believed to be unbalanced power structure.

A balanced political power will contribute to the national reconciliation process and stability of the country.

Tolerance is much needed on the road leading Iraq into a democratic and prosperous nation. Among the blocs competing the March election are many secular and cross-sectarian ones, reflecting a good step toward the reconciliation.

To solve the impasse caused by the ban, law should be respected and tolerance is also needed. After all, the development of Iraq cannot do without a legally and fairly elected government, and the unity of the Iraqi people.


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Editor: Anne Tang
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