Just seven weeks ago there was a "free" election in Iraq. The opposition even won! Imperialists were jubilant. Jingoists were dancing jigs. "See. It was all worth it. Democracy has come to the Islamic mideast."
The existing government cried "Foul!" While it is not unusual in that part of the world, as elsewhere, for the opposition to protest that the elections were rigged, it is a novelty for the existing government to protest that the elections it carried out were rigged. But that was what the existing religious government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki claimed when his rival former occupation Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's secular alliance came out on top by a few seats in the parliament.
It looked like the winner would be given a crack at forming a new government. But now, lo and behold, seven weeks later the government's election courts are tossing out one of the winning parliamentary candidates (more to come) on the grounds that he used to be a supporter of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party-- back in the bad old days of rigged elections.[See New York Times 4-27-10-- front page report by Steven Lee Myers].
This court previously vetted the candidates BEFORE the elections (just to make sure al-Maliki wouldn't have a rough time). But they must have slipped up because he lost anyway. So now its time to eliminate winning candidates AFTER the election. This MAY reverse the defeat of al-Maliki-- these disqualifications can be appealed.
Here is another trick. The courts are disqualifying 51 of the losing candidates after the votes have been counted so the votes they received will be redistributed to the victors. What are the odds, when all is said and done, it turns out that al-Maliki won after all. The lessons of Florida and Ohio have not been lost on the Iraqis.