McClatchy/ CSM reporters Jane Arraf and Mohammed al-Dulaimy cover the decision of an appeals court to uphold the disqualification of 52 Iraqi politicians. The exclusion had been ordered by the ‘Justice and Accountability Committee’ headed by Ahmad Chalabi and Ali al-Lami, themselves candidates on the fundamentalist Shiite list.
Two of those disqualified actually did run and win. Lami seems to say that the votes for them will simply be invalidated and those MPs disqualified would not be replaced or the seats returned to their parties. If that allegation were true, it would reduce the seats held by the Iraqiya list of Iyad Allawi to only 90 (one of the victorious excluded candidates is Ibrahim Mutlak, who stood in for his brother Salih, on the Iraqiya list, when the latter was disqualified before the election). It is also not clear, as the discussion at Reidar Visser’s site noted, whether the decision would therefore reduce the number of seats in the Iraqi parliament from 325 to 323.
The party with the single largest number of seats in parliament is asked to make the first go at forming a government, and Iyad Allawi is convinced that he can in this way return to the prime minister’s palace. It is not clear, however, that he or any of the other most likely candidates for PM, can actually attract enough coalition partners to make it possible to form a government (163 votes are needed in an Iraq of 325 seats).
The judicial appeal allowed to the excluded two candidates will take at least a month, so that the final certification of the election results will be further put off. In the absence of final results, the four major parties are reluctant to go forward with forming political coalitions, since they do not know exactly where they stand with one another. The results were already delayed by a manual recount of votes in Baghdad province, ordered at the instance of current Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who alleged fraud.Members of the Iraqiya list have now begun saying that if the Baghdad recount were to substantially alter the outcome of the election (in which Allawi’s Iraqiya received 91 votes, the single highest number)– then there might well be a groundswell of support in the Iraqi public for voiding the entire election and holding a new one.
US Ambassador Christopher Hill said Monday that he is concerned that the process of forming a government is taking too long, and that elements of disorder may take advantage of the power vacuum to destabilize the country.