Iraq bans pictures of non-candidates in vote

Political sources said that ban was mainly aimed at preventing Shi'ite groups from using posters of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the highest Shi'ite religious leader in Iraq.

Iraq bans pictures of non-candidates in vote

Iraq's cabinet wants to ban parties from using pictures of figures who are not running for office at campaign rallies for local elections, the government's spokesman said on Thursday.

Campaigning in places of worship would also be prohibited, a statement from government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

Pictures of religious leaders are almost always displayed at Shi'ite political gatherings and during election campaigns.

Political sources said that ban was mainly aimed at preventing Shi'ite groups from using posters of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the highest Shi'ite religious leader in Iraq.

Analysts said, in past elections, some Shi'ite factions gained more support from voters by displaying posters of Sistani along posters of their candidates, implying they have his blessing.

Sistani has been always keen on distancing himself from the daily Shi'ite politics and only gets involved on major crisis, the sources said.

Dabbagh said in the statement the government wanted: "to ban using posters and promoting figures who are not taking part in the elections in the elections campaign."

The movement of the anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr will also be harmed by the ban because Sadr himself will not run as a candidate.

The polls are scheduled for Oct. 1 but are likely to be delayed because of hitches in getting a draft provincial electoral law passed in parliament.

Dabbagh's statement contained a list of amendments, which will be submitted to parliament.

Sunni Arabs boycotted the last local polls in January 2005.

Analysts say the elections will also be the battleground for a fierce power struggle among majority Shi'ites.

Reuters

Last Mod: 03 Temmuz 2008, 17:14
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