Baghdad: Hundreds of protesters gathered Sunday in Baghdad and the southern city of Basra to denounce Iraqis still loyal to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party.
The protests come amid soaring tensions over hundreds of candidates who have been banned from running in March 7 parliamentary elections because of their suspected ties to Saddam's regime.
Protesters carried signs that said, "No, No to Baath Party!" and "The return of the Baath Party (is) a return to mass graves."
Shiite officials, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his political allies, are trying to purge all high-level posts of Iraqis with ties to Saddam's Baath party, which was outlawed in Iraq in 2003.
Parliament was scheduled to hold an emergency meeting on the ban later Sunday.
The ban is widely seen as targeting Sunnis, even though Shiites also are on the blacklist.
Some Sunni leaders have threatened to boycott the election if the purge stands. That, in turn, risks throwing the election into chaos and would raise questions about its credibility.
First Published: Sunday, February 07, 2010, 20:28