Iraqi Vote Results In Doubt After Disqualifications A controversial committee has announced that six winning candidates in Iraq's March 7 election are connected to the former regime of Saddam Hussein and must be disqualified. Critics say it's no coincidence that disqualifying them will erase the lead of secular Ayad Allawi and his alliance of Sunnis and Shiites.
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Iraqi Vote Results In Doubt After Disqualifications

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Iraqi Vote Results In Doubt After Disqualifications

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:

As NPR's Quil Lawrence reports from Baghdad, it could put Allawi's victory in jeopardy.

QUIL LAWRENCE: Allawi's electoral slate won by a slim two-seat margin. That should mean he gets the first try at forming a government. But this week a committee of the outgoing parliament announced that four members of Allawi's coalition are linked to Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath Party. One of the names was Muhammad Uthman from Diyala Province, northeast of Baghdad.

MUHAMMAD UTHMAN: (Foreign language spoken)

LAWRENCE: Uthman says that he was never a member of the Baath Party and that the arrest warrant against him is false.

UTHMAN: (Foreign language spoken)

LAWRENCE: In Baghdad, he tried to protest the ruling by the de-Baathification committee. The group was originally appointed by the U.S. and run by the controversial Iraqi dissident Ahmed Chalabi. Just before the elections, the committee disqualified over than 500 candidates, nearly derailing the vote.

(SOUNDBITE OF VOICES)

LAWRENCE: Ali al-Lami, now the director of the committee, said the candidates were only allowed to run in the first place because of the United Nations and American pressure.

ALI AL: (Foreign language spoken)

LAWRENCE: As for blaming the U.S., ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill responded.

CHRIS HILL: We understand the provisions for de-Baathification that are in the law, that are in the constitution. But what needs to happen is there needs to be a transparent, open process. So you know, people can blame the United States as much as they want, but they really need to take this matter to the Iraqi courts.

LAWRENCE: Iraqi courts have sided with the de-Baathification committee in the past, as has sitting Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has already vowed to overturn the result by any legal means. The next question is what happens to the votes earned by people like Uthman?

UTHMAN: (Foreign language spoken)

LAWRENCE: Quil Lawrence, NPR News, Baghdad.

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