- The Washington Times - Monday, April 26, 2010

BAGHDAD (AP) — An Iraqi court on Monday disqualified 52 candidates from the country’s parliamentary elections, including two who won seats, and threw out their votes in a decision that could change the outcome of the March 7 vote.

At least one of the winning candidates came from the coalition of secular challenger Ayad Allawi, which won 91 seats compared with 89 seats for a bloc led by incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said Saad al-Rawi, a member of the independent commission that oversees Iraq’s elections.

He said a special court tasked with reviewing election-related complaints alerted the commission to the decision Monday.

However, Mr. al-Rawi said, it was still unclear how the decision would affect the outcome until the commission is able to recalculate the votes. He said he did not expect the decision to affect the position of Mr. Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc because the barred candidates from his coalition only won a limited number of votes.

“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,” Mr. al-Rawi said.

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.

The court was acting on a request by a controversial, Shiite-led committee that vets candidates for ties to Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Iraq has foundered for weeks following the inconclusive election, with Mr. al-Maliki and others challenging the results, thus creating a political vacuum and raising fears of increased violence at a time when U.S. troops prepare to go home.

The head of the De-Baathfication Committee, formally called the Accountability and Justice Committee, Ali al-Lami, said the barred candidate from Mr. Allawi’s coalition was Ibrahim al-Mutlaq, the brother of Saleh al-Mutlaq. Salah al-Mutlaq, a leading Sunni political figure, was barred from the election under the same pretext, a decision that caused outrage among Iraq’s once-dominant Sunni minority.

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