In Iraq news, a national conference has to pick a 100-member interim legislature has ended in a storm of controversy. The legislature is comprised almost entirely of former members of the U.S.-appointed Interim Governing Council and pre-selected members from five major political parties. Many candidates who attempted to run were removed from voting lists because of technical reasons. And a slate of independent candidates removed themselves from the selection process in protest. Many other delegates left the conference.
No actual vote was taken, the slate of 81 candidates was simply approved. The 19 former members of the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council were given automatic seats. Abbas Khadim, an Iraqi lecturer in California, compared the selection of the legislature to elections under Saddam Hussein: He said “There was no election whatsoever. It was one list of names prepared by the government. Take it or leave it! Not much different from Saddam’s elections which he always won by 99.99%” The head of a group called Free Iraqi Civilians and Officers said “It’s impossible to build Iraq in this way … representatives of [Prime Minister Iyad] Allawi and other officials want a parliament that just roots for them and not for the Iraqi people.”