Iraq postpones election ruling, Clinton urges action

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BAGHDAD: Iraq has delayed until next week a ruling on whether nine parliamentary election winning candidates will be disqualified, an official said, in another hold-up for the country’s political process.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday urged Iraqi leaders to resolve rows over the March 7 elections and form a new government quickly, amid a stalemate in Baghdad about who will take power in the wake of the vote.

Iyad Kenani, an official with Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), told AFP late Tuesday that a decision on the nine winning candidates would take place next week, instead of Wednesday as originally planned.

On Monday, a judicial panel eliminated one winning candidate and around 50 others who failed to secure parliamentary seats, drawing anger from former premier Iyad Allawi whose secular coalition narrowly won last month’s election.

The disqualified winning candidate came from Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc, which has alleged that it is being targeted by officials and religious parties who do not want him to obtain power.

Allawi, a Shia, whose strong backing in Sunni Arab areas led him to defeat incumbent Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, also Shia, 91 seats to 89, according to unofficial results, said Iraqiya would challenge the disqualifications.

The lack of a government almost seven weeks after the election has alarmed Washington, which plans to withdraw all combat troops from Iraq by August, ahead of a complete US military pullout at the end of 2011.

"The United States calls upon Iraq’s leaders to set aside their differences, respect the courageous ballots of the Iraqi people, and to form quickly a government, that is inclusive and represents the will of all Iraqis," Clinton said in a statement.

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