Page last updated at 13:07 GMT, Sunday, 7 February 2010

Iraq parliament to debate ban on election candidates

Man looks at election poster for banned politician
Sunni groups felt disproportionately targeted by the ban

Shia political parties in Iraq have staged demonstrations ahead of an emergency parliamentary debate on next month's elections.

They are protesting against a court's decision to overturn a ban on candidates with alleged links to ex-President Saddam Hussein's Baath Party.

If parliament is unable to find a solution, a panel of judges will have to rule on each individual case.

This would further delay the start of campaigning.

It has already been delayed by five days to allow the emergency debate. The election itself was pushed back by nearly two months.

The court ruling, which the government has called "illegal and unconstitutional", would allow the candidates to stand for election, and be subject to investigation only after the polls.

US concern

The BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse, in Baghdad, says that although the controversial list of banned candidates straddles the sectarian divide, Sunni groups have felt disproportionately targeted.

He adds that US officials have openly expressed their concern over the blacklist, fearing that the row could damage the credibility of the election, which in turn could affect their timetable for military withdrawal.

There are still more than 100,000 American troops in Iraq.

At Sunday's demonstrations on the streets of Baghdad, Shia parties' supporters vowed to purge Baathists and chanted: "No to Baath, No to Saddam." Some voiced fears about what they saw as American interference in the electoral process.

Baathism is a form of secular Arab nationalism and was the ideology espoused by Saddam Hussein when he came to power.

Although a minority, Sunni Muslims were dominant under Saddam Hussein's rule but have since complained of being marginalised under the post-Saddam Shia-led government.

Print Sponsor

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific