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'Elections Will Be Held as Scheduled,' Iraqi PM Vows

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2005 – Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has vowed that nationwide voting would be conducted in his country on Jan. 30.

"I'll tell you that the elections will be held as scheduled," Allawi insisted to reporters at a Jan. 10 Baghdad news conference.

The prime minister also said that Iraqi-government efforts to curtail the insurgency are bearing fruit. As evidence, he pointed to Iraqi security forces' recent capture of the alleged leader of the Mohammed Army insurgent group and several more arrests involving other suspected terrorists operating in Iraq.

Allawi said the arrests demonstrate "the growing capabilities of our forces in dealing with such terrorist groups."

The prime minister also noted that each time terrorist groups appoint new leaders to replace those in detention, then "they will be detained; they will be captured; and they will face trials."

The detainees are receiving legal representation, Allawi said, and are to be tried in Iraqi government courtrooms.

He said the suspects now "are giving information and testimonies about the crimes they committed," and "information about some of their intended crimes that were to be held."

Allawi said the Iraqi government is "determined to take out such groups and to capture and detain" leaders and bring them to trial.

Iraqi security forces, Allawi reported, have also recently "confiscated a large amount of weapons" in the city of Mosul.

The Iraqi people "are facing many enemies who are trying to prevent them from carrying out their dreams" and achieving a peaceful society, Allawi said.

Defeating terrorists and criminals "will take time," the prime minister acknowledged. But, he emphasized, the Iraqi government is committed to doing so.

Iraq's security forces are increasing, he pointed out, noting the country's police and military members "deserve our praise."

There will be "more victories" against insurgents in the coming days and weeks, Allawi predicted, and terrorists "will have no safe haven in Iraq."

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