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Iraqi Court Disqualifies 2 Newly Elected Parliamentarians in Boost to Al-Maliki

Incumbent Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki is one step closer to fulfilling his vow not to relinquish his post to the man whose political bloc had apparently beaten him in last month’s election with the disqualification of 2 newly elected parliamentarians. The two disqualified were determined by a court on Tuesday to have been associated with Saddam Hussein and therefore ineligible to run in the election. Al-Maliki has also succeeded in getting a recount in Baghdad which he hopes will yield another four seats, thus assuring his victory. Al-Maliki’s bloc came in two seats behind former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s bloc in the March 7 balloting. Allawi announced that his group will appeal the court decision. The growing instability bodes poorly for American interests in Iraq and for the U.S. military’s ability to stick to the Obama administration’s timetable for exiting the country. It is feared that the perception of heavy-handed control by Al-Maliki will spur new violence by fighters loyal to anti-American cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr. Most observers see the American plan to convince Al-Maliki and Allawi to split the four-year term with 2-years each as a non-starter.