Iraqi officials confirmed on Saturday that appeals by prominent Sunni politicians against a move to ban them from next month's election had failed.
Usama al-Ani, deputy head of the independent electoral commission, or IHEC, said the agency had received a formal notification from an appeals panel that only 26 appeals by banned candidates had been successful.
One hundred and forty-five appeals were rejected, he said. Other candidates had been voluntarily replaced by their parties.
"Among those whose appeals were rejected were Saleh al-Mutlaq and Dhafer al-Ani," said Ani, referring to two Sunni politicians who are among the most prominent Sunnis in Iraq.
Many Iraqi Sunnis are alarmed by a campaign by the Shi'ite-led government against people accused of links to former leader Saddam Hussein's Baath party, and a decision by a panel to ban almost 500 candidates because of Baathist links.
The furore over the banned candidates has come to dominate the campaign for the March 7 parliamentary election, which kicked off officially on Friday.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and other Shi'ite leaders have jumped on the issue to stir up widespread fears among Shi'ite voters over a possible return to power of the Baath party, which brutally repressed Shi'ites and minority Kurds under Saddam.
The Iraqiya coalition announced it would temporarily suspend its election campaign to protest the ban, as well as the murder of one its candidates in the tense city of Mosul a few days ago. Mutlaq warned of disaster.
"If the current political process continues along this path it will fail and finish soon," Mutlaq told Reuters at a protest called on Saturday by his supporters.
In an interview with Reuters on Friday, Mutlaq said that "enemies of Iraq" had won a battle against him but not the war.
"I believe that democracy in Iraq is committing suicide," he said.
ReutersLast Mod: 13 Şubat 2010, 18:44