First Published: 2005-02-15

Iraqi groups link role in politics to US exit

Marginalised groups call for internationally guaranteed timetable for withdrawal of foreign troops.


Middle East Online

The groups include Shiites and Sunnis

BAGHDAD - A meeting of groups which boycotted January's historic elections called Tuesday for a date for US troops to leave Iraq if they are to take part in the crucial task of writing a new constitution.

A statement issued at the end of the meeting at Baghdad's Om al-Qura mosque, headquarters of Iraq's leading Sunni body, called for "an internationally guaranteed timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops".

The meeting involved the Sunni Committee of Muslim Scholars, an Arab nationalist, a former member of ousted president Saddam Hussein's Baath party and a representative of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

None of those present took part in the January 30 election mostly because they objected to a vote being held under what they call "foreign occupation".

The group also listed "an end to handing out political posts based on religious, racial or ethnic criteria, and recognition of the people's right to resist" the occupation as their conditions for taking part in "national reconciliation and drawing up the constitution".

Shiite and Kurdish leaders who emerged victorious from the vote have admitted the necessity of bringing in marginalised groups to help draw up the constitution in order for the country to move forward.

The group stressed their "rejection of terrorist acts against innocent Iraqis, infrastructure and places of worship".

"The administration that will emerge from the elections must not have the right to agree international treaties which could harm Iraq's sovereignty and independence, nor its natural resources," said the statement.

Participants said the incoming government would be "illegitimate", adding that election day had seen "fraud" and a low level of participation.

They stressed the necessity of "adopting democracy as a means of rotating power ... respecting the Arab and Muslim identity of Iraq, and freeing political prisoners, especially women."


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