Allawi seeks support for elections

Iraq's interim prime minister has held talks with King Abd Allah II and Iraqi exiles in Jordan to muster support for January elections which several political parties want delayed.

    Allawi met with Iraqi tribal chiefs and businessmen in Amman

    Imad Shabib, a member of Iyad Allawi's Iraqi National Accord party,

    said the meetings on Wednesday were seeking to "forge unity in Iraq away from

    confessional differences" in the run-up to the 30 January polls.

    Allawi met for two hours with Iraqi tribal chiefs and

    businessmen before holding talks with King Abd Allah, who promised

    total support for elections and insisted they must be

    comprehensive.

    Jordan "will fully support the Iraqi government in its efforts

    to hold elections across Iraq with the participation of all the

    Iraqi people, without exception", state television quoted the king

    as saying.

    Amman "will continue to back Iraq ... and train Iraqi security

    forces and police", he told Allawi.

    Late last year Jordan agreed to train 32,000 Iraqi police on its

    territory as part of a US-led programme.

    More than 7000 Iraqi

    cadets have already graduated from the course.

    Relentless violence

    Allawi's spokesman Thair al-Naqib said earlier the prime

    minister would ask the king for help in ensuring the elections are

    held on time despite relentless violence that some parties say could

    scupper hopes of a truly nationwide vote.

    "We want a united Iraq. Not a confessional or ethnic one," the

    head of the Dulaim tribe of Iraq's western Al-Anbar province said

    after talks with Allawi in a heavily guarded Amman five-star

    hotel.

    "We want a united Iraq. Not a confessional or ethnic one"

    Statement by the head of Iraq's Dulaim tribe

    Al-Anbar is home of the city of

    Falluja where US-led forces last month launched a massive

    onslaught, one of a series of offensives against anti-US fighters before the

    elections.

    Several businessmen were also invited to meet with Allawi, his

    aides said.

    Allawi is to hold further talks in Amman on 8 December with

    almost 120 Iraqi exiled political personalities who lived abroad

    during the former government of Saddam Hussein.

    "There is an important Iraqi community in Jordan and we wish

    them to participate in the electoral process," Naqib said of about

    100,000 Iraqis who live in Jordan according to unofficial

    estimates.

    Election doubts

    Many members of Saddam's Baath party also now live in Jordan,

    including former parliament speaker Saadun Hammadi, but Naqib said

    Allawi - a former Baathist himself before fleeing into exile -

    would not meet anyone linked to the ousted government.

    Ten key Iraqi parties, including Allawi's National Accord, have

    called for a six-month delay, arguing that continued violence does

    not allow for the organisation of viable polls across the country.

    US-led forces are waging war
    against Iraqi opponents

    But Allawi is adamant the vote should be held on time.

    Meanwhile, Iraq's Defence Minister Hazem Shaalan cast fresh doubt

    on the date of the vote, telling reporters in Rome that security

    conditions still fell short of what was required.

    Iraq's interim constitution clearly states that elections should

    be held before the end of January.

    Delaying them would leave the

    current unelected government in a legal vacuum and anger the country's

     Shia community, who expect to form the largest bloc after the elections.

    SOURCE: AFP


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