Spokesperson for Iraq's Shi'ite government Ali Al-Dabbagh [official website, in Arabic] said Thursday that a decision by an appeals court to allow candidates with suspected ties to the outlawed Baath party [BBC backgrounder] to run for office is illegal and unconstitutional. Under Wednesday's decision [WSJ report] by the appeals panel of the Iraqi electoral commission, some 500 candidates who were barred from running by the Justice and Accountability Commission because of their alleged ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath party may now run for office, although a case could proceed against them after the election. The decision is reportedly similar to a recent proposal [LAT report] by US Vice President Joe Biden. The Iraqi government is seeking a final ruling on the matter from the nation's highest court. Elections are scheduled for March 7.
In December 2008, Iraq arrested [JURIST report] 23 interior ministry officials for allegedly attempting to rebuild the Baath party. The Iraqi De-Baathification Commission [official website, in Arabic], established in 2003, has prompted the removal [JURIST report] of approximately 30,000 alleged Baathists from public life. In 2008, Iraq adopted the Accountability and Justice law [JURIST report], which allows most former Baathists to be reinstated into public life.