Saleh al Mutlaq: Decision to Ban Taking Part in Elections is Political
Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat and Agencies – Leader of the Iraqi Front for National Dialogue, Saleh al Mutlaq, said Friday that he would resort to the United Nations and the international community if he is banned from taking part in the upcoming elections based on links to the dissolved Baath party.
Ali Faysal Allami, the Chairman of the Accountability and Justice Commission, said that the Commission had decided to ban the leader of the Iraqi Front for National Dialogue and his organisation from taking part in the forthcoming parliamentary elections and justified the decision saying that there is “evidence and documents against the Iraqi Front for National Dialogue and its leader, al Mutlaq.” He stressed that the decision issued by the Accountability and Justice Commission includes al Mutlaq so he is banned from taking part in the forthcoming elections. The government’s Accountability and Justice Commission is responsible for ensuring the constitutionally banned Baath party does not return to Iraqi politics.
In a statement to Asharq al Awsat, Mutlaq stressed that “this decision is political and is linked to a foreign desire.”
The political group including leading members of Iraq’s Sunni minority threatened to boycott national polls in March after Mutlaq was targeted for alleged ties to Saddam Hussein’s Baath party.
The Iraqi List, headed by Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, a Sunni Arab, former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, a secular Shiite, and MP Saleh al-Mutlaq blasted the decision.
It is feared that a boycott from leading Sunni politicians like Mutlaq and Hashemi could cut off wider participation from Iraqi Sunnis, which would be a grave setback as Iraq seeks to solidify security gains ahead of the U.S. troop drawdown.
The United States has vowed to halt combat operations this summer and withdraw its troops entirely by 2012.
“The leaders (of the Iraqi List) call all those involved to correct this grave mistake as soon as possible in order to maintain the positive electoral atmosphere,” the group’s leadership said in a statement aired late on Friday.
“If this (ban) is enacted, the leaders of the list and its allies will reconsider their participation in the election, which could jeopardise the electoral and political process,” a spokesman said.
Many Sunnis boycotted the last parliamentary election in 2005, marginalising them at a vulnerable moment and fuelling sectarian violence.
Securing true political participation from not just Iraq’s newly empowered Shi’ite majority but also minority Sunnis and Kurds is seen as key to ensuring violence does not erupt anew. But it is unclear what the edict from the commission, which banned Mutlaq and a dozen other groupings, will have given the stalemate over the commission’s leadership and a larger battle over how best to deal with former Baath party members.
The government and parliament have not been able to agree on new leadership for the committee for over a year, and members of parliament have accused Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s government of dragging its feet in welcoming former Baathists — many of them Sunnis — back into government.
The commission was set up to guard against a return of the Baath party, which ruled Iraq from the 1960s until 2003, and to usher lower-level party members fired en masse by U.S. officials after Saddam’s ouster back into government.
The ban, which would be enacted out by Iraq’s electoral authority, IHEC, can be appealed in court. IHEC officials were in a meeting on Saturday and not available for comment.
The commission has not shared details of its charges against al Mutlaq, who denies any wrongdoing.
The Iraqi List, which also includes Deputy Prime Minister Rafie al-Esawi, a Sunni, has been seeking to eat into the strong showing expected from two leading Shi’ite coalitions.
One of those lists, State of Law, is headed by Maliki. The other is headed by the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, the country’s biggest Shi’ite party.