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Iraq court bans 100 former Baath members from elections

[JURIST] An Iraqi court ruled Saturday that some 100 as-yet-publicly-unspecified candidates - most believed to be Sunnis - who ran in the December 15 Iraqi parliamentary elections will be struck and not allowed to serve in the next national assembly due to previous associations with Saddam Hussein's now-defunct Baath Party [BBC backgrounder]. Commentators fear the decision will further polarize Iraqi politics at a time when many Sunnis still support the insurgency. The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq [official website] is still counting ballots and expects to have results available by next month, but preliminary counts [IECI partial uncertified results] show many popular Sunni politicians, including several candidates on US-supported former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's ticket, were in the lead before the ruling was announced. The Iraqi government's DeBaathification Commission [official website] had submitted a list of 185 former party members to the election committee with directions not to allow their candidacies, pursuant to election rules [Iraqi election law text, PDF] stating that if candidates had reached a certain level within the Baath Party, they would be banned if they had not renounced their former association; some candidates voluntarily withdrew their names, and many on the list were removed from consideration by the court ruling. Many Sunnis claimed election fraud [JURIST report] after partial election results revealed that they had won fewer parliamentary seats than had been hoped. Knight-Ridder has more. Aljazeera offers additional coverage.

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