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In Iraq, banned Sunni candidates back in the race

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Credibility of election threatened

The ban threatened to damage the credibility of the elections, and was red-flagged by Washington and the United Nations as increasing the possibility of greater instability.

“I myself am not in favor of a boycott; there is nothing to gain from that, and everything to lose,” says Saleh al-Mutlaq, the leader of the second largest Sunni party in Iraq, who was among hundreds of politicians banned from elections in a controversial de-Baathification process.

“As a result of this [banning] maneuver, Sunnis will be marginalized in national elections yet again,” Mr. al-Mutlaq told the Monitor. “Repercussions could be serious. If the people find they cannot work for the required change through political means, in their frustration they may turn to any other means at their disposal and create a situation of chaos once again.”

Sectarian and civil war surged across Iraq, especially after the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra in February 2006 contributed to record death tolls of 3,000 per month and ethnic cleansing of many neighborhoods in Baghdad.

Minority Sunnis ruled Iraq under Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party for three decades, but the 2003 American invasion paved the way for domination by the 60 percent majority Shiites.

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