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Iraqi government is harassing winning candidates, Sunnis say

Sadiq al-Rikabi, a top adviser to Maliki, said that the detentions have nothing to do with the prime minister and that Maliki's inability to control Iraq's electoral commission illustrates the limits of his authority.

"When will the accusations stop?" he said. "Does the prime minister have the authority to arrest anyone? He doesn't. The arrest warrants come from a judge."

It is unclear whether any of those detained committed crimes. Many Shiites worry that Allawi's bloc is a cover for criminals and former members of Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath Party and is funded by anti-Shiite neighboring countries.

A spokesman for the Defense Ministry denied that military officers are carrying out politically motivated warrants.

"As an army, we do not issue warrants against anyone," Mohammed al-Askari said. "We receive these warrants from the judicial system without knowing what parties they belong to or who they are."

Special correspondent Jinan Hussein contributed to this report.


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