[JURIST] An Iraqi appeals panel ruled Thursday that 28 previously banned candidates can stand in the March 7 elections [JURIST news archive]. The ruling came after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [official website, in Arabic] said Monday that the dispute over banned candidates would be resolved [JURIST report] within the week. The Responsibility and Justice Committee had initially ruled that some banned 500 candidates could stand for election, despite allegations of ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party [BBC backgrounder], a decision that the Iraqi government characterized as illegal, but that decision was reversed [JURIST reports] Sunday when the panel acknowledged that it did not have to rule on all 500 candidates at once. Some candidates had already been replaced, and of 177 disqualified candidates who appealed their decisions, all but 37 were disqualified [Reuters report] for improper filing.
Last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [official website] urged Iraq [AFP report] to allow the disqualified candidates to run. Iraqi leaders who opposed the original decision to exclude 500 candidates had called on [JURIST report] the Supreme Court to analyze whether the decision was legally binding. The Iraqi Parliament had been summoned to an emergency session on Sunday to debate whether to further postpone the scheduled March 7 elections, but the session was delayed when not enough lawmakers were present to achieve a quorum. The Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) [official website] previously postponed the parliamentary elections campaign, originally set to begin last Sunday, until Friday, when campaigning officially got underway [AFP report]. The election will determine the 325 members of the Council of Representatives of Iraq who will then elect the prime minister and president.