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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN Office for the Coordination
of Humanitarian Affairs
23 January 2006

IRAQ: Sunni politicians cheered by election results

BAGHDAD, 23 Jan 2006 (IRIN) - Iraq’s Sunni political alliance says it is celebrating the results of last month's parliamentary elections.

“We showed our strength by winning a total of 55 seats in the new parliament – more than the Kurdish Alliance – which will give us full representation,” said Adnan al-Dulaimi, leader of the Iraqi Accord Front.

Results released on 20 January showed the two main Sunni parties together winning 55 of the national assembly’s 275 seats, while the Shi'ite United Iraqi Alliance took 128, down from the 146 it won last year.

The Kurdish Alliance won only 53 seats, down from 75 last year, while the party of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi took 25 seats, down from a previous 40 in the outgoing assembly.

“Despite the many problems with the results, Sunnis will now celebrate their return to a commanding position and show that our main interest is in stopping the insurgency and protecting Iraqis,” said al-Dulaimi.

While al-Dulaimi did not rule out the possibility of forging coalitions with other groups, he said this would be considered “only if the constitution approved in October is changed, particularly on the issue of federalism".

Many Sunnis suspect the concept of federalism, enshrined in the current national charter, represents a first step towards the break-up of Iraq.

According to some observers, the new equation will also force the Shi’ite majority into a certain degree of power-sharing with other groups, in contrast to the outgoing assembly where their numbers allowed them to dominate.

“The Shi’ites expected to run the government without partners,” said Farid Ayar, spokesperson for the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq. “But to do that, they had to win at least 138 seats.”

Local analysts, meanwhile, say the results represent a step towards easing the insurgency and terrorism that have wracked the country since the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime in early 2003.

“With the Sunnis enjoying significant participation inside the government and having an influence on decision-making, attacks will decrease,” said Farhan Yacoub, a teacher of political science at Baghdad University.

According to Yacoub, the main problem now is the fact that Kurdish parties will have fewer seats in the assembly than the Sunnis.

“The Kurds didn’t expect this,” Yacoub noted. “These results will certainly lead to a revolt within the incoming assembly.”

Particularly painful to Kurdish ambitions will be the fact that Iraqi law stipulates that the positions of prime minister and president must be held by a Shi’ite and a Sunni Arab respectively, he said.

Nevertheless, many Iraqis expressed satisfaction with the relatively even distribution of seats among the country’s three main ethnic and religious groups.

“Having all groups in power means stability,” said Baghdad shopkeeper Abbas Abdul-Khalid. “Now the Iraqi people are just hoping to see some reconstruction and an end to the insurgency and the daily killing of dozens of people.”


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