Monday, November 22, 2004

Interview with Iraq's election chief

Hussain Hindawi, president of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, is tasked with making sure next year's elections come off as scheduled. Despite the continuing violence across the country, Hindawi, a former journalist who recently returned to Iraq, remains optimistic elections can be held on Jan. 30, 2005.
Q. How do you respond to recent calls by six Sunni Muslim groups to boycott the elections?

A. We have nothing to say to them. Everything is very clear. The voting mechanisms are very transparent using the criteria of the United Nations.

Q. How is the conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, related to what you are doing here?

A. Iraq's foreign minister Hoshar Zebari said this is a political conference to discuss the aspects of the elections that we are not involved in. This is related to security. Many countries will offer support for the Iraqi people and for the government. In addition, the Iraq government has refused to allow the insurgents to be involved in the political process. France proposed that they participate in this meeting, two weeks ago, and the Iraq government refused. So they agreed that any kind of discussion about this is a governmental issue.

Q. What deadlines do you need to meet to hold the election on January 30?

A. Today, we'll finish certifying the political entities. We're giving people another 10 days to register individual candidates. Then we will have a period of probably several weeks to give people a chance to object to the list. We have more than 150 political entities registered and 55 more individuals registered at the moment.

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