BAGHDAD - Former foreign minister Adnan Pachachi, tipped for a key role in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, insisted Wednesday he will only take part in an interim government if he is elected.
Pachachi, who returned to Iraq on Tuesday after 33 years in exile, turned down a seat on a US-sanctioned leadership council of opposition leaders that is taking a lead role in forming the new government.
"What is important now is not the leadership council but the interim government which has to be elected and not nominated by someone else," the octogenarian told a packed Baghdad press conference.
"It has to be elected by a broadly based Iraqi conference in which all political forces and persuasions in Iraq are represented," he said.
"As far as myself taking part I will only, only accept a role if I am elected."
The council, on which five major Iraqi movements are represented, is selecting the hundreds of delegates who will attend a national congress to choose an Iraqi interim government in the next few weeks.
Pachachi was the only Sunni Muslim Arab to be offered a seat on the council set up in February, but he declined it and went on to create the Independent Iraqis for Democracy (IID) party in London in March.
"My plan is to consult with all political groups in and outside Iraq on the rebuilding of the country," he said.
He added the interim government should enact a new electoral law and ensure basic freedoms "so the people of Iraq will be able to engage in normal political activity."
Pachachi, who has been living in the United Arab Emirates' capital of Abu Dhabi since 1970, while also spending time in London, said returning after his long exile left him feeling "joy mixed with sadness."
"But this really has given me an added determination to see what has happened to Iraq should be overturned and the situation in Iraq should be restored to what it was before."