Digest

Top Iraqi court to weigh ruling on barred national candidates

IRAQ Shiite Muslim women flagellate themselves Thursday during the religious festival of Arbaeen in the holy city of Karbala. For photos from around the world, visit washingtonpost.com/world.
IRAQ Shiite Muslim women flagellate themselves Thursday during the religious festival of Arbaeen in the holy city of Karbala. For photos from around the world, visit washingtonpost.com/world. (Hadi Mizban/associated Press)
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Friday, February 5, 2010

BAGHDAD -- IRAQ

Top court to weigh ruling on candidates

Iraq's electoral commission asked the country's highest judicial power Thursday to decide whether a ruling to allow barred candidates to run in national elections March 7 is binding.

An appeals court's decision Wednesday to allow hundreds of candidates -- the most prominent of whom are Sunni -- onto the ballots despite supposed ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party angered the Shiite political establishment, which has accused the panel of bowing to U.S. pressure.

The ruling said in essence that candidates could run for office but that if they won, they would be scrutinized after the election for alleged ties to Hussein's regime.

Western officials have said the proposal would reduce the risk of a Sunni boycott that could render the election process illegitimate. But it might have created a new political crisis as officials in the Shiite-led government rallied Thursday to condemn the ruling as an illegal move prompted by U.S. officials.

As the electoral commission asked Iraq's supreme court whether it is bound by the ruling, the government moved to counter the political backlash. On Saturday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Presidency Council, the parliamentary speaker and the top judge on the supreme court will meet to discuss the ruling's legality.

If no decision is made, an emergency session of parliament that Maliki has requested would meet Sunday.

-- Leila Fadel and Aziz Alwan

ROMANIA

U.S. shield proposal wins official backing

Romania's top defense body on Thursday approved a plan by Washington to deploy interceptor missiles in the Black Sea state as part of a missile shield to protect Europe, President Traian Basescu said.


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