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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iraq Panel Disqualifies 52 Parliament Candidates, Alleging Ties to Former Regime

VOA News 26 April 2010

An Iraqi panel has disqualified 52 candidates from Iraq's March parliamentary election for alleged ties to Saddam Hussein's banned Ba'ath party.

Officials with the Independent High Electoral Commission's accountability panel Monday said two of the disqualified candidates won seats in the March 7 election.

Election officials said one of the barred winning candidates was from former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya alliance. Officials did not identify the coalition of the second disqualified winner.

The disqualifications could affect the outcome of the close election. Mr. Allawi's secular alliance won just two more seats than Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law coalition.

Votes will have to be recalculated before it is clear if the disqualifications change the amount of seats each party won. Officials say a barred candidate actually could be replaced by a member of that same party if the vote tallies are not significantly altered.

The announcement comes days before election officials begin a manual recount of votes cast in Baghdad. An Iraqi election panel ordered that recount last week following an appeal from Mr. Maliki.

Mr. Maliki's alliance said it uncovered evidence of widespread fraud in five provinces, including Baghdad, that could have significantly affected the election outcome.

International observers have said the election was fair.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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