Page last updated at 14:22 GMT, Monday, 26 April 2010 15:22 UK

Iraqi election winners barred for Saddam link

Electoral workers at a vote counting centre in Baghdad  14 March 2010
Two winning candidates have been barred by a judicial committee

Two Iraqi candidates who won seats in parliamentary elections in March are to be barred from taking their seats.

The order came from the judicial vetting panel set up to block candidates connected to former President Saddam Hussein.

The candidates both come from the Iraqyyia list of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, it is understood.

But a spokesman for the group says that they will be replaced by other members of the same list.

If this is the case the overall election result would not be affected, officials said.

"The new process will be complicated because we need to do calculations again in order to decide whether this court decision will have an effect on the distribution of seats within the block," Saad al-Rawi, one of Iraq's seven Electoral Commissioners, said.

Narrow victory

He said if the new calculations show that any one coalition does not lose a seat, then the coalitions would be able to replace the barred candidates with the next one on their lists who got the most votes.

Nouri Maliki (l) and Iyad Allawi (r)
There has been weeks of negotiations between parties trying to form a government

The judicial panel, the Accountability and Justice Committee, decided that in total 52 candidates should not have been allowed to stand for election because of their connection to the party of the former president, deposed by the US-led invasion in 2003 and executed in 2006.

Only two of those candidates won their seats, one in Baghdad, the other in Ramadi, the BBC understands.

The results of the election gave a two-seat victory to the Iraqiyya list, far short of the majority needed to form a government.

There have been already weeks of negotiations to build a coalition between different political groups to win enough of the 325-seat Council of Representatives, without apparent success.

This decision is likely to heighten tension between Iraq's Shias and Sunnis, the BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse in Baghdad says.

The De-Baathificiation committee is seen as being led by political figures from Iraq's majority Shia population.

Mr Allawi's Iraqiyya bloc has garnered support from Iraq's Sunnis.

Also causing tension is a recount of millions of votes in Baghdad's 68 seats, ordered by Iraq's election commission.

The manual recount was ordered after complaints from Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.

Although Mr Maliki's State of Law coalition came first in Baghdad with 26 seats, he had demanded a recount.

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