A ruling by an Iraqi review panel on whether to wipe out the votes of nine winning candidates from March 7's election has been delayed, possibly until next week, officials said on Tuesday. On Monday, the panel threw the Iraqi political process into turmoil after invalidating votes cast for 52 other candidates in last month's ballot.
The decision to debar candidates cast doubt on the two-seat lead of the cross-sectarian Iraqiya alliance. However, according to Reuters, members of the alliance, led by ex-premier Iyad Allawi, expect no change in its final tally of parliamentary seats because the candidate would be replaced by the next Iraqiya nominee in line in the same constituency.
A separate decision that had been expected on Tuesday over the fate of nine winning candidates was seen as more significant and more likely to affect the result. "It has been postponed till Monday," said Faraj al-Haidari, head of the Independent High Electoral Commission.
Other politicians said they thought the review panel might return to the case on Wednesday. "What we heard is that it has been delayed until tomorrow, but as they say, no one knows how far away tomorrow is," said Mustafa al-Hiti, a senior member of Iraqiya. The decision, when it comes, is not subject to appeal.
Iraqiya officials said the alliance could lose one or two seats if the panel invalidated the votes given to those nine candidates, also on the grounds of alleged Baathist links. Eight of the group of nine winning candidates belong to Iraqiya.