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Iraq court overturns ban of nine new parliament members

The appeals court for Iraq's Justice and Accountability Commission on Monday overturned a ban on nine newly elected members of parliament accused of having ties to the banned Baath Party [BBC backgrounder].The ad hoc commission was created to eliminate Iraqi officials with potential connections to regime of Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive], who led the Baath party during his presidency. Eight of the banned candidates were members of the Sunni-backed coalition Iraqiya, which received the plurality of votes in the March 2010 parliamentary elections [CEIP backgrounder; JURIST news archive] by a two-seat margin. The ban by the commission, which is made up predominantly of Shiites, was perceived as a tactic by the Shiite bloc to garner seats from Iraqiya in order to gain the plurality for incumbent Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law [official website] coalition. A spokesperson for Iraqiya praised the decision [Reuters report] of the appeals court and stated that this decision was a victory for the Iraqi judicial system. The court's decision may mark the end of the election appeals, and the confirmed election results must now be certified by Iraq's highest court, which will lead to negotiations for the next prime minister.

Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) [official website] announced Sunday that the partial recount of the March parliamentary elections will not alter seat allocations [JURIST report] awarded in accordance with the provisional results. The commission held that the original count showed no signs of fraud or major irregularities [JURIST report], and confirmed the two-seat lead of the the Iraqiya coalition of Iyad Allawi [personal website, in Arabic; Al Jazeera profile] over al-Maliki's bloc. Last month, an IHEC review panel nullified the votes of 52 candidates for alleged ties to the Baath Party, including two candidates that had won seats in the Iraqi Council of Representatives [official website], at least one of which coming from Iraqiya. In February, an Iraqi appeals panel ruled [JURIST report] that 28 of the 500 candidates previously banned due to allegations of ties to the Baath Party could stand in the election. The initial ban was characterized by the Iraqi government as illegal and was reversed [JURIST reports] when the panel acknowledged that it did not have to rule on all 500 candidates at once. This came as a reversal of a previous decision, where it held that the candidates could stand in the coming elections, but would have to be cleared of the allegations against them before taking office.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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