Iraqi Sunni coalition lists priorities

A Sunni Arab coalition running in next month's general elections has declared that its priority in the new parliament will be to amend the country's new constitution and work on speeding withdrawal of foreign troops.

    The coalition includes the Iraqi Islamic party

    Leaders of the Iraqi Consensus Front said they will work to end ethnic and sectarian quotas for country's Shia, Sunni and Kurdish communities in politics, release all detainees from government prisons and review the laws instituted since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in April 2003.

    Although not all Sunni groups plan to take part in the elections, the participation of the front, which includes the Iraqi Islamic Party, the General Conference of the Iraqi People and the National Dialogue Front, is a major change for the sect that ruled Iraq for since the domination of Islam on the country in the seventh century.

    "It is necessary to have a strong state that is capable of running the country's affairs in a good way that will end all the justifications that the occupiers use as an excuse" to stay, the statement said. They added that they will work to make the "occupation forces" put forth a timetable for their withdrawal.

    National resistance

    The coalition called for the differentiation between the "national resistance" and "terrorism that slipped into the country during the absence of the state". The group appeared to be differentiating between nationalist fighters and al-Qaida in Iraq, which is allegedly led by Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

    The front also wants to amend articles in the constitution that "infringe on the country's sovereignty and its Arab identity". Sunnis have complained about a clause that says Iraq is a founding member of the Arab League, but does not say that it is part of the Arab Nation (the 22 Arab member states of the Arab League).

    Most Sunni Arabs boycotted the January parliamentary election - a move that shut them out of power, worsened sectarian tensions and heightened the violence.

    Some Sunni groups, such as the influential Association of Muslim Scholars, said they will not take part in any political process unless all foreign military forces leave Iraq.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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