Keeping up with the twists and turns in the battle over which candidates shall be eligible to participate in next month’s parliamentary elections in Iraq is enough to make one’s head spin. Initially, Iraq’s “Justice and Accountability Commission” announced that more than 500 candidates would be barred for alleged allegiance to the Baath Party. Later, an appellate court decided that all candidates would be allowed to run and that the matter of Baath allegiance would be sorted out after the election. But under pressure from the Prime Minister, the court reversed itself and reviewed the exclusions one-by-one, a job made easier by the fact that many of candidates initially barred by the Commission had withdrawn from the process.
As things stand now, 145 candidates will be barred (26 have been reinstated). This appears to be the final word on the matter, but in Iraqi politics one never knows.
It’s impossible for an outsider to assess the fairness of the exclusions. It seems quite appropriate to bar hard-core Baathist Party loyalists from top government jobs. But determining which candidates fit that description cannot be an easy matter. Nor is it easy to have great confidence that the Shiite politicians who make these calls, such as Ahmed Chalabi, are doing so in good faith.
Perhaps the best evidence that the outcome is not too egregiously rigged against the Sunnis consists of this – according to the Washington Post, no prominent Sunni has called for a boycott of the election, as many did in 2005.
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