BAGHDAD – A committee that vets candidates for ties to Saddam Hussein’s regime is recommending four people elected to parliament from the winning list of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi be disqualified, an official on the committee said Monday.

If the courts accept the recommendation, it could alter the outcome of the March 7 vote in which Allawi’s secular Shiite-Sunni coalition beat a bloc led by Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki by just two seats.

In particular, that could fuel feelings of disenfranchisement by Iraq’s minority Sunnis, many of whom backed Allawi’s list and believe the vetting committee is trying to rob them of a victory and tilt the election outcome back to the Shiite-led majority.

The official said the Justice and Accountability Committee found the four politicians have ties to Saddam’s Baath Party. He said the committee was also pushing for the disqualification of two other winning candidates, one from al-Maliki’s list and a Kurdish candidate.

Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc rejected the step.

“The decisions of the Accountability and Justice Committee are not legal,” said Hamid al-Mutlaq, a winning candidate on the Iraqiya list. “Those six winning candidates have the approval of (the election commission) and this decision is a political one, not a legal one.”

Al-Mutlaq is the brother of another prominent Sunni politician, Saleh al-Mutlaq, who was one of about 450 candidates barred by the committee from running before the voting. Those barred included Shiites, but Sunnis feel the panel is primarily trying to block them from regaining a political voice they lost with Saddam’s overthrow.

The vetting panel wanted another 52 candidates blacklisted just days before the voting, but the electoral commission allowed them to run. Out of that group, six candidates won seats.


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