News / Middle East

Iraq Coalition Halts Campaign Over Candidate Bans

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A prominent secular coalition in Iraq has announced it will not campaign for the March 7 general election because several of its candidates have been disqualified for alleged ties to late Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party.

The Iraqiya coalition of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said Saturday the ban creates a poor climate for the political process.

Two prominent Sunni parliamentarians from the Iraqiya list, Saleh al-Mutlak and Dhaver al-Ani, are among the disqualified candidates.

Campaigning began Friday as the first official campaign posters were plastered across Baghdad.

Later Friday, Iraqi officials said a series of bomb blasts killed six people and wounded at least 35 others in Kufa, on the outskirts of the holy Shi'ite city of Najaf, south of Baghdad.

Also Friday, the British Defense Ministry said eight Iraqis have been arrested and will stand trial in connection with the 2003 killings of six British military police officers in a remote Iraqi town.

The British military police officers were killed by an Iraqi mob in the town of Majar al-Kabir nearly seven years ago.  The British Defense Ministry says it is committed to seeing the killers brought to justice and is helping the Iraqi government secure convictions of the suspects.

Separately, the U.S. military said five people were killed during a joint raid with Iraqi forces in a village near the Iranian border.  The U.S. military said those killed were suspected members of an Iranian-backed militant group.  But local officials said at least eight people died, mostly civilians.  No other information was immediately available.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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