Thursday, January 29, 2004

Elections in Iraq: "On January 12, Sistani said: 'We want free and popular elections, not nominations.' On January 16, he reiterated that 'it's possible to have elections in the next few months with an acceptable level of transparence and credibility'. Sistani even proposed as electoral identities the rationing cards held by practically all Iraqi families for the duration of the UN oil-for-food program.

"The official American excuse for not holding direct elections - as expressed by Iraqi proconsul L Paul Bremer's minions in Baghdad - is lack of time. No wonder. The occupying power has not taken a single measure since last April to even give the impression it was interested in organizing direct elections. The July 1 deadline cannot be postponed because it falls four months before the American presidential election - and Bush and the neo-cons must as soon as possible, according to the ideal scenario, furnish proof to the electorate that the American military adventure in Iraq may be over soon... If [Sistani] issues a fatwa (religious edict) condemning the caucuses and the future, indirectly-appointed national assembly, 15 million Shi'ites will follow - and whatever government chosen indirectly will be considered a fake. Sistani has also made it very clear that only a government chosen by free, direct elections will have the legitimacy to negotiate the crucial issue with the Americans: when the occupying troops will actually leave. "

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