Jordan: Iraq not ready for polls

Iraq is far too unsafe to hold scheduled elections in January and "extremists" would do well in the polls if Baghdad tried to hold them, Jordan's King Abd Allah II has said.

    The king says "extremists" would win if polls were held now

    Excluding troubled areas from the nationwide polls would only
    isolate Iraq's Sunnis and create deeper divisions in the country, he told Paris daily Le Figaro 

    in an interview published on Tuesday. 

    The United States and Iraq's interim government insist the
    vote should go ahead as scheduled despite a worsening security situation there. 

    But the king said: "There is chaos in the streets and every day that passes sees new agitators infiltrating across the borders which are terribly difficult to protect. 

    Impossible

    "It seems impossible to me to organise indisputable elections in the chaos we see today," said the king, who was due to meet French President Jacques Chirac in Paris on Tuesday.

    "Only if the situation improved could an election be organised on schedule. If the elections take place in the current disorder, the best-organised faction will be that of the extremists and the result will reflect that advantage.
     
    "With such a scenario, there is no chance the situation will
    improve," he said.

    Asked if partial elections would isolate the Sunni Muslims, he said: "That's exactly our worry." 
        

    Rebuilding army

    The monarch, who is due to visit Italy after completing his
    visit to France, called for "a rapid reconstruction of the former Iraqi army"

    "If the elections take place in the current disorder, the best-organised faction will be that of the extremists and the result will reflect that advantage"

    Jordan's King Abd Allah II

    But he stressed that this should not include the generals, "rather the officers and junior officers, the middle ranks, who are the only people in sufficient number and ability to restore order". 


    He also said

    new Iraqi troops should be trained for longer periods.

    "The faster we reconstitute the old army, the better the new
    one will be," he said. 

    US authorities disbanded the army soon after the fall of Baghdad last year.

    Abd Allah said he had no news about the fate of two French hostages in Iraq, journalists Christian Chesnot and Le Figaro correspondent Georges Malbrunot.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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