Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat- Ali al-Lami, the Executive Director of the Accountability and Justice Commission, confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the investigation into the list of electoral candidates and parties that have been prohibited from participating in the forthcoming election has concluded and that 59 candidates have been reinstated and will be allowed to participate. Al-Lami said that these candidates were included in the original list of candidates prohibited from participating in the elections due to errors in candidates’ names, dates of birth, and other data.
Al-Lami told Asharq Al-Awsat that the reinstatement of these candidates to the electoral list “was not a result of political or marginal agreements, as is being rumored by some media, but the objectors submitted their [personal] information which confirmed similarity in names and other data, and proved that this [electoral prohibition] decision should not apply to them.”
According to al-Lami, one of the most important candidates to be reinstated to the 7 March election list is Yassin al-Mutlaq, the brother of Iraqi Front for National Dialogue leader, Saleh al-Mutlaq, who is one of the most prominent figures banned from standing at the forthcoming elections.
On the issue of whether the names submitted to the Council of Representatives for vote to fill positions in the Accountability and Justice Commission has any connection to this recent decision, al-Lami told Asharq Al-Awsat “The Commission is not concerned with the names proposed by the Council of Ministers and voted on by the Council of Representatives, and a meeting will take place to choose the new head of the Commission, and this will be voted on as well.” He confirmed that “the decisions of the [Justice and Accountability] Commission follow legal committees in this Commission, and the Commission has no connection to the names that will be provided to fill certain positions because this is a legal issue and subject to the special law regarding the Commission, rather than laws that apply to individuals.”
Sources informed Asharq Al-Awsat that this new list [of figures proposed to take positions in the Justice and Accountability Commission] includes Kamran Rasool and Bakhtiyar Omar of the Kurdish Coalition, Mohamed Salim and Mahdi Saleh of the National Iraqi Alliance, Falah Shanshal of the Sadrist bloc, Haidar Hanoun of the Islamic Dawa party, Abdul Razzaq al-Hassan of the Iraqi Accord Front.
Al-Lami has been subject to repeated accusations that he is working for foreign agendas, including Iran’s, and that the Accountability and Justice Commission has issued its decisions in an attempt to exclude certain political figures in order to give an unfair electoral advantage for certain parties. There have also been accusations that the Iranian al-Quds Force is behind the formation of the Accountability and Justice Commission, as well as personal accusations against al-Lami accusing him of committing crimes. In response to such accusations, al-Lami told Asharq Al-Awsat “we do not engage in media altercations with those who make such accusations against us, and we say that lawsuits have been brought before the Iraqi Justice system against all those who continue to make these accusations. I personally have brought a lawsuit – as is my right – against all those who accuse me of having ties to Iran, or say that we – as a Commission – are working for the interests of any Iranian force, as is rumored or other accusation or that I am accused of the crime of murder. All these accusation are unfounded. I do not have a [criminal] file with the Supreme Judicial Court…I am not wanted by any authority, no warrant was every issued against me, and my arrest was a malicious attempt to keep me away from my work and the work of the Commission, but I was released and I returned to work without any charge being issued against me.”
Al-Lami confirmed “I do not and have never worked for any foreign party, and I do not have any political agenda…I am an independent candidate, and Dr. Ahmed Chalabi (Chairman of the Accountability and Justice Commission) does not intervene in the work of the commission, and so its work is completely legal and the decisions that are issued come from the executive director, not the commission supervisor [Chalabi].”
Al-Lami also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the media dispute has calmed down now after they learned that lawsuits have been brought against all who have made prolonged attempts to distort the work and [the image of] the employees of the commission, and those [responsible for this] are the Baathists who continuously affirm that those who are not with them are with Iran, and that includes the Iraqi Islamic party”
In an interview with the London Times Newspaper, US General David Petraeus, Commander of US Central Command, accused the members of the Accountability and Justice Commission of “seemingly hijacking the new organization [which replaced the Debathification Commission] without having been confirmed as the leadership of it and being manipulated by reportedly the Iranian Quds force.” However on the issue of the Accountability and Justice Commission’s decision to ban certain candidates from participating in the forthcoming elections, Petraeus said “I’m considerably much less worried than I was say last weekend when this was all really appearing that it actually could boil over and result in a reversal of the effect of two and an half years of reconciliation among different groups. It appears however in the last 48 to 72 hours that Iraqi leaders have really gripped this issue” adding that “each party has at least double-digit numbers of individuals on this particular list of over 500 names and that it is reportedly 55 per cent or so Shia and 45 per cent or so Sunni. So if it ever was as was reported a predominately Sunni list and predominately focused on sidelining Sunni candidates that is not the case now.”