Gulp: Iraqi committee disqualifies four members of Allawi's coalition

Iyad Allawi’s grip on a lead in the Iraqi elections was in doubt last night after a committee said that four candidates on his winning list should be disqualified due to links to Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party.

If the recommendation by the Justice and Accountability Committee is upheld by the courts, the opposition leader Mr Allawi’s two-seat advantage over the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki could evaporate. Mr Allawi’s slender lead is already under threat from Mr Maliki, whose challenge to the electoral outcome escalated yesterday when he attacked the UN for not supporting his call for a recount on the grounds of vote-rigging and fraud.

Even before last night’s news, a handful of newly-elected members of parliament opposed to Mr Maliki had already been arrested or gone on the run. The UN says that the poll was fair and transparent.