The change came as Shi'ite parties held protests and vowed to purge Baath loyalists. It took some wind out of a furor that has stoked tensions before the March 7 vote, and parliament delayed a planned debate on the issue as a result.
The panel decided it had made a mistake thinking it needed to consider the entire list of nearly 500 candidates instead of just 177 politicians who appealed, said Falah Shanshal, a senior lawmaker. It will examine the appeals before the vote, he said.
The Shi'ite-led government's ire and calls for a campaign against Baathists could lead to a dangerous witchhunt that might reopen sectarian wounds between Sunnis who dominated Iraq under Saddam and the Shi'ite majority just as overall violence fades.
Fanning fears of a Baathist revival might benefit Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and other Shi'ite Islamist leaders, as it could win back voters who might be leaning toward secular, cross-confessional groups, like ex-prime minister Ayad Allawi's.
"We should not stand here with our hands tied during this sensitive period. We should take revenge for our martyrs, prisoners, the displaced and the homeless left by the former regime," Baghdad provincial governor Salah Abdul-Razzaq, a senior member of Maliki's Dawa party, told protesters.
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