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Iraqi court suspends Zebari president bid

Iraq’s federal court has suspended former foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari’s presidential bid while it looks into corruption allegations dating back to 2016, the state news agency reports, one day before parliament is due to elect a new president.

Zebari, a prominent Kurdish politician who served as Iraq’s foreign minister for more than a decade, was finance minister when he was sacked by parliament in 2016 over alleged corruption.

He denied the accusations.

Last week four parliamentarians filed a petition to the federal court demanding Zebari’s exclusion from the presidential race, accusing him of financial and administrative corruption in 2016.

In its ruling, the court said it had “decided to temporarily suspend the procedures of electing (Zebari) for the position of President of the Republic until the case is resolved”.

Zebari was not immediately available for comment.

He has previously said the allegations against him are politically motivated.

Two MPs said on condition of anonymity that Zebari’s suspension could delay Monday’s vote, which comes four months after a parliamentary election led to populist Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s movement becoming the biggest bloc with 73 seats in the fractious 329-seat house.

The country’s new president will be tasked with asking the largest bloc in parliament to form a government.

Zebari, one of 25 candidates, had high chances of winning the election before the corruption allegations surfaced again.

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