Iraq committee to remove 90 ex-Baathists from ballots

12/26/2005 10:29:38 AM

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's electoral commission said Saturday it would carry out a court decision to remove 90 people who were members Saddam's Hussein's outlawed Baath party from the tickets of political parties and coalitions that participated in Dec. 15 elections.

The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq did not name any of the 90 people or say if any were likely to be elected when final results are released in early January.

Earlier this month, the de-Baathification commission, a body charged with removing senior members of Saddam's party from government posts, recommended that nearly 185 people running as candidates be banned from taking part in the elections.

The de-Baathification commission later withdrew some of the names, citing mistaken identities. Others were withdrawn by their parties - leaving 90 people on the list.

The electoral commission, however, cited insufficient evidence against the 90 people and rejected the list. It said if the courts later determined that allegations of Baath membership were true, the officials would be barred from elected office even if they won in the poll.

Iraq's federal court last week decided to remove the 90 people, an official said.

"The electoral commission will adhere to this decision," said IECI General Director Adel al-Lami said. He said steps would be taken to "replace those who are covered by this decision with other candidates."

An estimated 1.5 million Iraqis belonged to the Baath party - formally known as the Baath Arab Socialist Party - at the time of Saddam's fall in April 2003. Most say they joined for practical reasons, arguing that membership was needed for career advancement, to secure places at prestigious colleges, or to get specialized medical care.