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Iraq PM: election ban dispute to be resolved this week

[JURIST] Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [official website, in Arabic] said Monday that a dispute over banned candidates will be resolved by Friday when campaigning is scheduled to begin for the upcoming elections [JURIST news archive]. He assured [AFP report] Iraqis that the appeals panel will be able to rule on candidates' eligibility within the week. Al-Maliki's endorsement of the court comes after the appeals panel reversed [JURIST report] its previous decision, holding that it was mistaken in thinking it had to rule on all 500 candidates, and would engage in a candidate-by-candidate review of the 177 politicians that had appealed to the court.

The panel's original ruling overturned a decision by the Justice and Accountability Commission disqualifying more than 500 mostly Sunni politicians for suspected links to the outlawed Baath Party [BBC backgrounder]. While the US disagrees [VOA report] with the exclusion of Sunni candidates, Iraqi leaders opposed the panel's original decision and urged [JURIST report] the Supreme Court to analyze whether the decision was legally binding. The Iraqi Parliament had been summoned to an emergency session on Sunday to debate whether to further postpone the scheduled March 7 elections, but the session was delayed when not enough lawmakers were present to achieve a quorum. The Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) [official website] previously postponed [NYT report] the parliamentary elections campaign, originally set to begin Sunday, for five days.

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