US Biden in Iraq to discuss political ban

U.S. Vice President Biden arrived in Iraq to try and mediate in a squabble over a decision to bar candidates from March elections.

US Biden in Iraq to discuss political ban

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Iraq on Friday to try and mediate in a squabble over a decision to bar candidates from March elections due to suspected links to Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath party.

Biden, making his third visit since U.S. troops pulled out of Iraqi urban centres last June, was expected to discuss with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki the move to exclude more than 500 politicians from the vote, which has threatened to reopen sectarian wounds.

The list drawn up by a panel charged with preventing high-ranking Baathists from returning to public life included popular Sunni politician Saleh al-Mutlaq, triggering protests from Sunnis who complained that majority Shi'ites were trying to marginalise them.

The panel's ruling was upheld by Iraq's independent electoral commission but still faces a court challenge.

President Jalal Talabani said there would be a meeting in the coming days between the presidency, leaders of parliament, heads of the judiciary and Maliki to "find a legal and constitutional solution" to the row over the banned candidates.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said it was incumbent on the banned politicians to disavow the Baath party, which ruled Iraq with an iron fist for more than two decades under Saddam.

On previous visit of Biden, supporters of fiery Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr paraded through a Baghdad slum chanting anti-American slogans.

Reuters
Last Mod: 23 Ocak 2010, 09:36
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