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Election Delay Would Prolong Agony, Iraq's President Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2004 – Delaying elections would only prolong the agony in Iraq, the country's interim president said on NBC's "Meet the Press" today.

President Ghazi al-Yawar said he believes elections must happen on Jan. 30 as scheduled. He called on all countries and the United Nations to help in the election process. "We do not think that postponing election or delaying it will solve the problem," Yawar said. "Actually, it will prolong the agony for Iraqis, and you will have more resentment in the Iraqi society."

The security situation in Iraq is tough, the president said, as some people have hesitated to register to vote, fearing reprisals from those seeking to keep the election from taking place. "If we can do something in these areas by enhancing the security situation, a lot of people are willing to join in now," he said. "We are not talking about (whether) people want to be in or not. Everybody is committed. But the problem is they are fearing reprisal of these people who are doing these bad actions."

Yawar said the insurgents are an amorphous group that cannot be reasoned with or talked to. "How are we going to talk to these people?" he asked. "They don't have faces. They don't have leaderships. They don't have ideologies. They don't have any demands. They are just there, wanting to bring the old regime back into Iraq. And we are not going to go back to the time of the prewar era after all. With all of the ups and downs, it's much better without having the old regime back."

The interim president said he does not think Iraq is on the brink of a sectarian war, citing the lack of such a conflict throughout Iraq's history. Rather, he said, he believes that once elections are held and Iraq has a new constitution that enshrines the rights of all, matters will settle down. Iraq has tremendous potential, and the population is educated and willing to shoulder the burden of defending the country, he said. Until then, however, American and other coalition forces will be necessary, he said, noting that Iraqi security forces are building up and that Iraqi army and National Guard units did very well in the recent fighting in Najaf and Fallujah. "By empowering Iraqis and helping us build our security forces and military on proper technical and moral backgrounds, this will be the solution for the Iraqi problem," he said.

Yawar said he is convinced the security situation solution should be "100 percent Iraqi." He said the government and the coalition must expedite building the Iraqi security forces.

A "silent majority" of Iraqis want the new Iraq to succeed, the president said. "We want this silent majority to say their word, and I'm sure they are very capable and very influential," he said. These people are silent, he added, because they are recovering from totalitarian rule under Saddam Hussein.

"The people who were, out of fear of reprisals, of oppressive regimes, of the vicious dictatorship like Saddam -- they were hurt," he said. "They were hibernating in caves. And this is a moral and national and human duty, is to help these people come out of these caves. And I think the United States, being the superpower, is destined to be helping all the people in the world to make the world a free world, really."

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