Iraqi barred from parliament polls for anti-Kurd remarks

BAGHDAD – Iraq's electoral commission on Wednesday barred a former MP from running in upcoming parliamentary polls after he vowed to work towards "ending the Kurdish occupation of Iraq," a commission member has said.

"The electoral commission has decided to disqualify Misha'an al-Juburi from the upcoming parliamentary election due to his failure to abide by campaign regulations," commission member Kolshan Kamal told Anadolu Agency.

"[Al-Juburi's] statements contravene the commission's bylaws on electoral campaigning," Kamal said.

On Tuesday, al-Juburi, who is affiliated with Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq, said his electoral vision included "ridding Iraq of the remnants of the U.S. invasion, embodied by the Kurds."

In an interview with the Emirati-owned Al-Arabiya news network, al-Juburi said he would "support the Kurds' right to self-determination" by granting them autonomy in the territories they had occupied prior to the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

The Kurds are the second largest ethnic group in Iraq after Arabs. The autonomous Kurdish government in northern Iraq controls several strategic oil and gas fields.

Following the ouster of late president Saddam Hussein, al-Juburi fled to Syria, where he remained an outspoken critic of the U.S. invasion.

He was allowed back into Iraqi political life after being acquitted of embezzlement charges.

Iraq's crucial parliamentary polls, slated for April 30, will come amid an uptick in militant attacks in the northern and western parts of the country, which have also spilled over into Baghdad.

The largest electoral bloc in Iraq's 328-member parliament has the right to nominate candidates for the premiership and other senior cabinet positions.

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