Iraqis back election transparency plea

BAGHDAD, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Iraqi lawmakers backed a measure introduced Wednesday by Deputy Prime Minister Rafi al-Issawi calling for a transparent parliamentary election in March.

The Iraqi political scene is mired in controversy following a January decision to ban hundreds of candidates from March 7 parliamentary elections. The Justice and Accountability Commission led by Ahmed Chalabi imposed the ban because of alleged ties to the outlawed Baath Party of Saddam Hussein.


Chalabi was considered a top challenger to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in the March elections. Once a favorite a Washington, Chalabi accuses U.S. officials of meddling in Iraq's internal affairs.

Issawi, meanwhile, said several political blocs signed on to the measure Wednesday in Baghdad, the Voices of Iraq news agency reports.

"The document stresses that all Iraqis have rights," said a statement released by the deputy prime minister.

Radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr said he would back any candidate who signed a document pledging support for Iraqi resistance movements.

"A candidate should not be a tool to promote foreign agendas," the Sadr petition said.

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