Skip to comments.Iraqi poll winners woo rivals
Posted on 12/27/2005 11:10:15 AM PST by NormsRevenge
ARBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - Leaders of the Shi'ite and Kurdish blocs that emerged triumphant in this month's Iraqi election agreed on Tuesday to push ahead with efforts to bring Sunni and other parties into a grand coalition government.
The visit of Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim of the Shi'ite Islamist Alliance to the Kurdish capital Arbil opened a series of planned meetings among rival factions intended to ease friction over election results which Sunni and secular parties say have been rigged and to begin building a consensus administration.
"We agreed on the principle of forming a government involving all the parties with a wide popular base," Kurdish regional leader Masoud Barzani told a joint news conference after talks with Hakim, the dominant force in the Alliance.
Hakim, whose bloc has run the interim government for the past year in coalition with the Kurds, was due to meet the other main Kurdish leader, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, on Wednesday, launching a series of bilateral meetings that will include Sunni Arab and secular leaders disappointed in the vote.
In Baghdad, several thousand supporters of secular former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi marched in the latest street protest against the results of the December 15 ballot. They want a rerun of a vote that handed close to a majority to the Alliance, whose armed supporters they accuse of forming Islamist death squads.
Privately, however, many disappointed leaders acknowledge the results will stand and say they will negotiate a coalition.
After meeting Hakim, Talabani will see, among others, Allawi, a secular Shi'ite, and Sunnis Adnan al-Dulaimi and Tariq al-Hashemi of the Accordance Front, Planning Minister Barham Saleh, a senior official in Talabani's party, said.
"The Kurdish Alliance is making contacts with the political blocs to prepare for a national unity government," Saleh said.
"These are preliminary and bilateral discussions between the Kurds and other groups ... There are expectation that at the beginning of next year there will be bigger meetings."
Sounding a cautious note ahead of negotiations that no one expects to produce a government for many weeks, Jawad al-Maliki of SCIRI ally Dawa, said: "(Hakim) is not there to negotiate about forming a government ... They might, in general, talk about the new government and the results of the election.
"The Kurdish bloc will remain our strongest ally."
A provisional estimation by Reuters, based on preliminary results, puts the Alliance on about 130 seats in the 275-seat assembly, just short of its current slim majority, with the Kurds on 52, the main Sunni group the Accordance Front on 41 and Allawi's list on 24, well short of his present 40 seats. The secular Sunni National Dialogue Front would have nine seats.
There is general agreement, supported with emphasis by the United States, that a "national unity" government is required to address sharply opposing interests among the armed communities.
In a reminder of the grievances and tensions underlying the process, police in the Shi'ite holy city of Kerbala rushed to announce the discovery of some 150 bodies in a mass grave dating from Saddam Hussein's Sunni-led oppression of Shi'ites in 1991.
But, after confusion, officials said the number found was 31.
At least three people were killed and six wounded in attacks in the northern oil city of Kirkuk and the town of Mahaweel, 75 km (50 miles) south of Baghdad.
The U.S. military said four Americans died on Monday, two of them in a helicopter crash in western Baghdad.
Police in the capital found three corpses bearing marks of torture and bullet wounds, while in Sunni Arab bastion of Samarra, 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad, gunmen abducted the head of a pharmaceuticals factory and six of his bodyguards.
Quelling such violence will be the main task of the incoming government, expected to emerge over the coming weeks or possibly months once the election results are finalized.
Though much of the recent bloodshed appears to be the work of al Qaeda-linked Sunni Islamists dedicated to wrecking the U.S.-backed political process, U.S. and Iraqi officials are keen to stem any resurgence in violence by other Sunni Arab groups, which observed an informal truce in the hope of establishing a strong voice for their minority in the new parliament.
Some Sunni politicians have warned that if their demand for a rerun was not met, the rebel groups would lose patience and step up their attacks. Behind the scenes, however, politicians have continued to talk to rivals, and appear to be jockeying for power more than trying to derail the new political system.
U.S. diplomats are also closely involved in trying to find a stable, consensus government that could stabilize the country and allow Washington to start withdrawing its 160,000 troops.
Poland has decided to keep its troops there until the end of 2006, longer than earlier planned, reaffirming its backing for the United States despite growing opposition at home.
(Additional reporting by Mariam Karouny, Aseel Kami, Mussab al-Khairalla, Gideon Long and Alastair Macdonald)
Leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) Abdul Aziz al-Hakim addresses a news conference in front of a poster of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Baghdad, October 29, 2005. Al-Hakim met Kurdish leaders in the north on Tuesday, opening a series of talks among rival factions intended to ease friction over election results and begin building a governing coalition. (Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters)
Note to Shunnis. Better think REAL hard about "Steping up attacks" You are about 1/3 of the country. Do not tempt the others to remember how you were Saddam's torture camp guards, mass rapists and executioners.
Also THANK YOU Poland, and MERRY CHRISTMAS.
Closer to 1/5 , actually. (41 +9 seats =50 out of 275, not too far odd their real clout)..They just "seem" like theres more of them
I guess I don't understand what everyone expected?
Was the media hoping Iraq would vote for Hillary Clinton for President?
The Iraqi's voted for the people who represented what they wanted. As long as this government lets them whole legitimate elections next time and it doesn't try to bomb us or their neighbors or assist other groups in doing so, I'd say mission accomplished.
Maybe John Kerry. I hear he was in Viet Nam for almost four months and his extensive combat experience would have been invaluable in helping rebuild Iraqi security (GAG! ACK!!)
Seriously, what the media was expecting was that, no matter WHAT happened in Iraq, they would find a way to twist it into a failure for Bush.
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