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Despite Constitution Ban, Ba'ath Party Looms over Iraqi Elections

Despite Constitution Ban, Ba'ath Party Looms over Iraqi Elections

Sunday, 15 April, 2018 - 09:15
Iraqi Parliament (File photo: AP)

The statement attributed to US Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman on the possibility of Sunnis returning to rule Iraq nearly 15 years after the overthrow of the former Iraqi regime, caused widespread confusion among Shiite circles which fear the return of Baathists in various ways.

US Embassy in Iraq implicitly denied the statements attributed to the Ambassador, but this denial which was stated by the bureau of Speaker Salim Jubouri, has made things even more ambiguous because it was not issued by the embassy itself.

Later, the US embassy confirmed that "the United States does not support any side, whether a party or someone in the upcoming elections."

US assurances did not dissipate the fears expressed by many leaders at the Shiite community.

“Accountability and Justice” commission took several measures such as excluding a large number of elections candidates for the elections, most of which are members of “National Coalition” led by former Prime Minister Eyad Allawi, who is often accused that majority of his Sunni supporters are of the Baathist party.

Allawi’s spokesman Hussein al-Mousawi issued a statement saying that the exclusion of dozens of candidates of the National Coalition for the parliamentary elections is an unfair decision of the commission.

“It deprives some Coalition candidates from the opportunity of fair political competition, and violates the constitutionally guaranteed principle of equality among Iraqis,” added Moussawi.

The spokesman voiced the Coalition’s calls to resort the issue to the Iraqi judiciary to achieve justice, and away from politics, revenge, and extortion.

Independent politician Sami al-Askari said in a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat that there is no place for Baathists in political life, especially after the ban of Saddam's Baath party.

For its part, “Accountability and Justice” commission denied succumbing to any political pressure to pass some candidates for the upcoming elections, during the audit of their cases. It announced that a total of 4 percent of the total names nominated for the race were excluded.

Commission’s spokesman, Fares al-Bekoua, said that the commission’s duty is to accurately study everyone's case, adding “percentage of those excluded so far ranges between 3 and 4 percent of the total number of names presented to the Commission.”

Head of al-Sadiqun bloc MP Hassan Salim, political wing of League of Righteous, announced that many Baathist candidates will take part in the upcoming parliamentary elections, noting that some were also among the leaders of the sit-ins at the western provinces.

Independent Iraqi politician, Shaker Ketab, told Asharq Al-Awsat that most of those supported by the Baathists in previous elections proved their worthlessness, broke their agreements with the Baath and revealed that they are not qualified for any leadership or political position.

He added that Batth party can no longer adopt them because they brought bad reputation, in addition to what is already perceived of negative image about the party.

"I think that [Baath] presence this time is weaker than before," he said.

However, senior leader “Iraq United” and the former Nineveh governor, Atheel al-Nujaifi believes that Baathists were able to exploit the need for lists close to Shiite parties for the benefit of figures in Sunni areas and joined them.

"They have exploited the ability of these lists to exclude them from the Commission," added Nujaifi.

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