US Vice-President Joe Biden met Iraqi officials in Baghdad yesterday amid a row over a decision to bar scores of candidates from a March election over suspected links to Saddam Hussein's Baath party.
The move by an independent panel has outraged Sunnis who dominated Iraq for more than two decades under Saddam and who see it as an attempt to marginalise their community, casting doubt on the inclusiveness and legitimacy of the March 7 vote.
US officials say the arbitrary way the list appears to have been drawn up and the questionable legitimacy of the panel could undermine the election. But Iraqi officials told Biden they did not need US interference. "The issue of accountability is an Iraqi issue and there is no foreign role in it, nor is there a role for foreign influence," said government spokesman Ali Al Dabbagh.
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