Adding to concerns about the legitimacy of the upcoming March election in Iraq, the Iraqi Justice and Accountability Commission says today that it may expand the ban on opposition politicians even further, covering well over 500 potential candidates for parliament.
Last week the commission announced that it was banning 14 Sunni parties, covering much of the opposition among the Sunni minority, on charges that they might have unspecified Ba’athist affiliations.
The ban included the Iraqi National Dialogue Front of Saleh al-Mutlaq, a key opposition leader. Outrage among Sunnis sparked claims of persecution and threats of a boycott of the vote.
Now, in an attempt to combat charges of sectarianism in banning those with alleged ties to the banned Sunni party, the commission says it also intends to ban Shi’ite opposition parties that are affiliated with the Sunni parties that are accused of affiliation with the Ba’athists.
Though this might solve the question of sectarian bias, it actually creates a bigger concern about stiffling the general opposition, and suggests that the ties of the originally banned factions to the Ba’athists were weaker than previously claimed.