The entire board of directors of Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) has resigned citing political and judicial interference as the country prepares for national parliamentary elections at the end of April.

The body has come under intense pressure due to a dispute over the electoral law between parliament and Iraq’s judiciary.

The nine-member board took the decision to resign to preserve the IHEC’s independence and impartiality, according to a statement published on its website.

The key dispute centres on Article 8 of the electoral law, which was approved in 2013 and calls for the exclusion of candidates considered not “of good reputation”.

Dozens of candidates have been disqualified by a judicial panel because they were subjects of arrest warrants. However, members of parliament argue that candidates must not be barred unless they have actually been convicted.

Critics say Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is seeking a third term in office, has abused the law by preventing political rivals from standing as candidates.