While many had expressed disquiet on Iraq’s secretive “Justice and Accountability Commission” (JAC) being able to issue wholesale bans of political candidates on the basis of secret evidence, the Iraqi High Election Commission (IHEC) sought to reassure this with promises that any candidate could challenge his ban.
Yet of the 177 people who attempted to contest their bans, only 37 of the appeals will even be considered, as JAC insists that the paperwork for the other 140 appeals were improperly filled out, and the deadline has now passed.
Many Iraqis have alleged that the JAC, led by Ahmed Chalabi, single out key members of its more secular rivals for banning, and was effectively weeding out support for former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s list, banning many of its top Sunni candidates.
The ban was initially rescinded by an Iraqi appeals court, which insisted there was not time to investigate the evidence against the 500 banned candidates. It was reinstated this weekend, when Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki claimed the court ruling was an American plot. Massive Shi’ite rallies demanding the bannings were held across Iraq.
What seems to be the final banning of the candidates, just days before campaigning will be allowed to begin, is certain to rekindle threats of a Sunni boycott of the election, as the bans have disproportionately affected high ranking Sunni secularists like MP Saleh al-Mutlaq.