Da Arab News del 02/02/2005
Originale su http://www.arabnews.com/?page=4&section=0&article=58424&d=...

US Troops Stay: Yawar

di Naseer Al-Nahr

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s president yesterday rejected calls to lay out a timetable for withdrawing US troops as officials began the final vote tally from elections to produce a government to confront the insurgency.

It would be “complete nonsense to ask the troops to leave in this chaos and this vacuum of power,” President Ghazi Al-Yawar said. But he added: “By the end of the year I believe we could see the beginning of a reduction in foreign troops.”

Saudi Arabia said the success of the Iraqi elections was an important step toward recovering the battered country’s sovereignty and independence. “The government and people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia congratulate brotherly Iraq on the success of the electoral process, which is an important step toward recovering full sovereignty and independence,” said a statement carried by Saudi Press Agency.

“We hope the outcome of the Iraqi election will lead toward achieving national reconciliation which would guarantee the unity and independence of the country,” the official statement added.

At his Baghdad press conference, Yawar also called for reconciliation. “We must all become involved in a dialogue and reconciliation... with everyone. All those who were not involved in violence must be part of the political process,” Yawar said.

The final count of ballots started amid stringent security in Baghdad. “You only need to wait a few days to know the final results,” said Abdul Hussein Al-Hindawi, chairman of the independent electoral commission.

Party officials said negotiations had already started among rival parties over the make-up of the new government.

The president called on the Iraqi Islamic Party, a mainstream Sunni religious faction which ordered supporters to boycott the poll, to join the drawing up of a new constitution.

He also predicted that a member of the Shiite majority community would have the key post of prime minister, with a Sunni president and a Kurdish head of the national assembly. Yawar insisted however that the arrangement should not become permanent, saying it would be “shameful”.

Claiming victory, a Shiite leader said he wanted all groups, including Sunnis, to help shape the country’s future. “The United Iraqi Alliance scored a sweeping victory. We know that the majority of those who voted cast their vote for the alliance,” Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim said Hakim said the Shiite alliance would work to build consensus and ensure that all Iraq’s ethnic and sectarian groups were included in the political process. “We don’t want anyone to be marginalized. We want everyone to take part in writing the constitution,” the cleric said. “We will defend the rights of all minorities and all groups no matter how small they are.”

Meanwhile, a militant group claimed in a web statement that it had taken a US soldier hostage and threatened to kill him within 72 hours unless Iraqi prisoners are freed. The web posting included a photo of a bound man in desert fatigues with an automatic rifle pointed at his head. The claim’s authenticity could not be immediately verified.

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