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What to think of the Accountability and Justice Commission?

One thing that is baffling me with the current Iraqi election is the Accountability and Justice Commission aka the de-baathification committee.  I am hearing different things from different people, and reading many things in the media about it.  Some people have told me that the committee is a genuine entity, aiming to identify Baathists with criminal pasts and distancing them from Iraqi politics.  Others say that the committee is being used purely for political purposes, distancing mainly Iraqiya candidates.  This is given greater impetus after the recent decision to bar 5 extra candidates, mainly from the Iraqiya list (I guess this will mean Iraqiya will not be the winning coalition).  So, which is it? I am confused and do not know who or what to believe. 

One thing which may give extra support to those claiming political games by the commission is the fact that the main protagonists of the commission are Ahmed Chalabi and Ali Lami, both leading candidates in the INA.  Personally, I think this is an unfortunate situation and it would have been preferable if the commission was headed by impartial civil servants, thus giving the commission an image of neutrality rather than the current situation, which to the impartial observer, will probably appear somewhat biased.  I am not saying that both Chalabi and Lami have political agendas and are deploying that agenda by barring candidates.  Nor am I saying that they do not have political agendas when acting out their commission duties.  I simply do not know.  I would have felt more confident and comfortable with the commission’s activities if it was not run by politicians, especially election candidates. 

Some commentators have even suggested that the main reason why Maliki attained second place rather than the expected first was due to the commission’s barring of 500 candidates prior to the elections.  Initially Maliki did not comment, but then stepped in and supported the decision, which may have alienated some sunnis who perceive de-baathfication as de-sunnification.  I suppose one will never know if this was the case. 

All I can pray and hope for is that justice is the over-riding factor in the commission’s work.

2 Comments on “What to think of the Accountability and Justice Commission?”

  1. Ali April 2, 2010 at 12:49 am #

    One only has to look at Ali Al-Lami’s campaign slogan to realise the highly politically-charged nature of his decisions and how undemocratic they happen to be: “So that the oppressive Baath do not return”
    من اجل ان لا يعود البعث الظالم
    In the event, he only managed a few hundred votes and was a long way off gaining a seat.

  2. Ali D April 2, 2010 at 1:07 am #

    What do make of the fact that most of those ‘de-bathified’ are excluded without any specific reason/allegation or public enquiry?

    It is committee that can get rid of whom it wants and it has no legislative and, unfortunately, no executive checks against it.

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