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Iraq electoral commission retracts resignation before vote

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki speaks at the opening day of a counter-terrorism conference in Baghdad, March 12, 2014. REUTERS/Karim K
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki speaks at the opening day of a counter-terrorism conference in Baghdad, March 12, 2014. REUTERS/Karim K

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Members of Iraq's electoral commission retracted their resignations on Sunday, having threatened to quit en masse in protest against political interference just one month before a nationwide vote.

The entire board of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) tendered its resignation last week, further complicating the outlook for polls that have already been clouded by violence across the country.

In a statement following a visit by the United Nations' envoy to Iraq, IHEC said: "The decision has been taken to withdraw the resignations and resume our duties in full confidence".

IHEC said it had found itself caught between conflicting rulings from parliament and the judiciary regarding the exclusion of certain candidates from the election, due on April 30.

Members of the commission said the conflict stemmed from divergent interpretations of the electoral law, which includes a clause allowing for candidates "of ill repute" to be barred from taking part.

Critics of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have accused him of using the law to eliminate his political rivals to help clear the way for his third term.

"I welcome the decision by the Election Commissioners to withdraw resignations so that parliamentary vote can take place on April 30," wrote U.N. envoy to Iraq Nikolay Mladenov on Twitter.

(Reporting by Raheem Salman; Writing by Isabel Coles)

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