The London pan-Arab daily al-Hayat [Life] reports in Arabic that the appeals court will issue its judgment on the coming Monday, May 3, concerning whether 9 candidates should have been allowed to run for parliament and whether they should now be disqualified, as urged by the Justice and Accountability Committee (formerly the Debaathification Committee). So says Ali al-Lami, the executive director of the committee. Those singled out for disqualification are accused of links to or sympathies with the deposed Baath Party that ruled Iraq 1968-2003. But the criteria for disqualification appear to be less than rigorous; even publically questioning the wisdom of excluding so many ex-Baathists from public office is apparently sufficient.
Since 7 of the 9 ran on the Iraqiya List of former interim prime minister Iyad Allawi, the ruling could well have an impact on the shape of the next Iraqi government. It had earlier been asserted that parties with disqualified candidates would not lose the seat that was won, and so would be enabled to appoint a substitute who would serve in the same party. But recently the appeals court and al-Lami have begun insisting that the seat itself would be lost and the votes thrown out, of voters who cast their ballots for a subsequently disqualified candidate.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday urged all parties to respect the results of the March 7 election.
Allawi’s secular, Arab nationalist list currently has 91 seats out of the 325 in parliament, and by the constiitution would be asked first to try to form a government, since his is the largest single party. If his party loses 7 seats, it would fall to only 85, less than the Shiite fundamentalist State of Law coalition headed by incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, which currently has 89 seats. In this case, al-Maliki would get first shot at forming a government, which is what al-Lami is apparently angling at with these disqualifications. Al-Lami is himself a member of the fundamentalist Shiite Iraqi National Alliance and is close to Iran, which would like to see the two major Shiite parties form a coalition, in alliance with the Kurds. He is supported by Ahmad Chalabi, who was once convicted of embezzling $300 million from his own bank in Jordan, and fed the US phony intel on Iraq to get up the war. He is close to Iran.
The Iraqiya party, in response to these maneuvers, issued a statement calling for ‘responsible officials to cease procedures that aim at changing the outcome of th elections and stealing the votes of voters via political purges, incarceration, and sly accusations that insult the candidates and the supporters of the Iraqiya list.” It called for Iraqiya members who had been arrested to be freed immediately and rejected any “tampering with the results of the election.” The statement said that the Iraqiya Party would now go to the Security Council of the United Nations, to the European Union, and to the Arab League to demand that a caretaker government be installed and that the parliamentary elections be held all over again. It called upon the three-man presidency council, as the guardian of the constitution, to instruct the present parliament to continue its duties until the new one is seated. (The Council consists of president Jalal Talabani and his two vice-presidents, Adil Abdul Mahdi of the Shiite fundamentalist Iraqi National Alliance and Tariq al-Hashimi of Allawi’s Iraqiya party.)
Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that the State of Law coalition issued a counter-statement saying that installing an interim government would be unconstitutional. In recent Iraqi practice the old government stays in power until replaced by a new one.
This party communique indicates that Allawi and his Sunni Arab and secular Shiite backers are now convinced that the effort to marginalize them and ensure that their achievement of a slight plurality in the voting will be set aside.
I have said that I don’t think this wrangling will reignite the civil war. But it could give Sunni insurgents renewed credibility. (If the new government is the result of tampering, wouldn’t it be legitimate to take up arms against it?)
Both the Shiite-dominated judiciary and Allawi are being highly irresponsible, and risking further destabilizing Iraq.