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|Tuesday 9th December 2003
The last weekend in January is the first time in 40 years Iraqis are able to vote. There are thousands of candidates from dozens of political parties - although some have refused to take part.
The election will take place in polling centres across Iraq (and foreign nationals will also be voting throughout the world in specified electoral stations):
WHO ARE THE CANDIDATES?
SUPREME COUNCIL FOR THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION
The Shi’i cleric has a long history of opposition to the rule of Saddam Husein, and tops the electoral list of the UIA. Lived in exile in Iran for more than two decades before returning in April 2003 and serving as a member of the Governing Council. Elected SCIRI chairman following the assassination of his brother, Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim. Promised Sunnis would be represented in any future government regardless of any election boycott.
Party: One of Iraq’s biggest Shi’i parties, SCIRI was based in and backed by Iran. SCIRI’s military wing, the Badr Corps, fought against Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war and supported rebels in the south in 1991. Dropped opposition to US assistance prior to invasion and has remained committed to the US-led political process, while calling for greater Iraqi self-government.
THE ISLAMIC AL-DA'WAH [CALL] PARTY
Al-Ja’fari, a medical doctor, is the official spokesman of the Islamic al-Da'wah Party. Was based in London until April 2003, before returning to become the Governing Council's first chairman in July 2003. Was appointed one of two vice-presidents of the interim government.
Party: Al-Da’wah is the oldest of Iraq’s Shi’i parties. Its guerrilla forces made several attempts to assassinate Saddam Husayn during the 1980s, and seriously wounded his son Uday. Al-Da’wah fragmented in the 1990s and it was one of two factions to join the Governing Council. Izz-al-Din Salim, its former leader in Basra and member of the council, was assassinated in May 2004.
IRAQI NATIONAL CONGRESS PARTY
A secular Shi’i, Ahmad Chalabi is leader of the Iraqi National Congress. He returned to Iraq in April 2003 after 45 years in exile and was appointed to the US-backed Iraqi Governing Council. Chalabi was also made chairman of the Higher National De-Ba'thification Commission. The former banker fell out with Washington in 2004 after claims he had passed on intelligence to Iran.
Party: The Iraqi National Congress was founded in 1992 as a broad coalition of opposition forces, committed to establishing democracy in Iraq. Despite being unable to maintain its position as an umbrella for the whole Iraqi opposition, the INC received considerable funding and backing from the US. In 2004 Chalabi appeared to be seeking a new audience for the INC by articulating a distinctly 'Shi'i' political identity.
Hadi al-Amiri was commander of SCIRI's military wing, the Badr Corps, before the 2003 announcement that the militia would become a civilian organization. He does not rule out a return to armed struggle. Al-Amiri has strenuously denied the Iraqi Intelligence Agency’s charges that the Badr Organization assassinated a number of intelligence personnel.
Party: SCIRI's militia forces, the Badr Corps, were renamed the Badr Organization for Reconstruction and Development in September 2003. Despite this new title, the Badr Organization has continued to call for its forces to play a role in policing and security matters, and is prepared to provide 100,000 men to maintain security during the election.
IRAQI NATIONAL ACCORD MOVEMENT
Allawi was appointed prime minister of Iraq’s interim government in June 2004, and will serve until a transitional government is elected in January 2005. A secular neurologist and former Ba'thist, who fled Iraq in the 1970s, Allawi worked with the CIA to topple Saddam Husayn. Allawi has recently promoted his strong leadership and tough approach against militancy.
Party: The Iraqi National Accord Movement was established in 1990 by Iyad Allawi, and consisted mainly of defectors from the Iraqi army. Backed by US and British intelligence agencies, INAM planned and attempted a number of unsuccessful coups. INAM was represented by Allawi on the Governing Council, and is the major party in the Iraqi List. Rebuilding the Iraqi army is one of the alliance's priorities.
THE IRAQI ALLIANCE
A Sunni Muslim and a member of the Shammar tribe, Ghazi al-Yawar was appointed interim president of Iraq on 1 June 2004. He was a civil engineer and worked for a communications company in Saudi Arabia before the overthrow of Saddam Husayn. His family were powerful landowners under the Iraqi monarchy.
Party: The Iraqis alliance, headed by Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawar, groups several Sunni and Shi'i figures, including several current government ministers. Al-Yawar has fairly wide support among Iraq's many ethnic and religious groups. The alliance is trying to "create national consensus on the outstanding controversial issues."
Dr Husayn al-Shahristani, a Shi'i nuclear scientist, was one of six figures chosen to draw up the electoral list of the United Iraqi Alliance. Whilst director of research at the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission in 1979, Al-Shahristani was imprisoned for possessing a subversive leaflet condemning the repression of Iraqi Shi'is. After he escaped from Abu-Ghurayb prison in 1991, he worked for human rights organizations in Iran and London.
A British-educated scientist, Dawud worked in the UAE for a number of years before the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Dawud is the secretary-general of the Iraqi Democrats Movement, and minister of state for national security affairs in the interim government. Also briefly served as national security adviser to Iyad Allawi.
Falah al-Naqib was governor of Salah-al-Din before being appointed minister of the interior in the interim government in June 2004. He was a leader of the Iraqi National Movement, a civilian-military opposition group. His father was Gen Hasan al-Naqib, a former deputy chief of staff under Saddam Husayn, who defected in the late 1970s and became active in the exiled opposition.
Dr Al-Ghadban is minister of oil in the interim cabinet. He was appointed to manage the Iraqi oil sector by the US-led coalition in May 2003. Studied in London before joining the Ministry of Oil in 1973, where he worked until the invasion. Was detained and demoted for supporting democratic reforms.
Hazim Sha'lan al-Khuza'i
The minister of defence in the interim government, Al-Khuza'i is a leader of the Al Bu-Ghazal tribe. Worked at the Iraq Real Estate Bank until 1985, when he was forced to leave Iraq because of opposition to the former government. Managed real estate firm in the UK before returning to be a governor Al-Diwaniyah in April 2003. Al-Khuza'i has accused the candidates of the United Iraqi Alliance of being Iranian agents.
Formerly a senior member and official spokesman of the Iraqi Islamic Party, Al-Hasani quit the party after he was told to resign his post of minister of industry and minerals in protest at the arrest of a party colleague. Subsequently joined Al-Yawar's alliance. Moved to the US in 1979, and served as a deputy member of the Governing Council following the invasion.
Kurdish Alliance List
KURDISH DEMOCRATIC PARTY (KDP)
Barzani, a Kurdish Sunni, has led the KDP since the death of his father, Mullah Mustafa, in 1979. Under Barzani, the KDP has faced conflict with both the Iraqi government and the rival PUK. However, Barzani has worked in tandem with PUK leader Jalal Talabani since 2002, and the two groups form the backbone of the Kurdistan Alliance List. Barzani was a member of the Iraqi Governing Council from July 2003 until June 2004.
Party: The KDP has been a dominant force in Iraqi Kurdish politics for more than half a century, and controls a large area of northwestern Iraq. Its armed peshmerga fighters, though not disbanded, are being dispersed around the new Iraqi security forces. The current Iraqi vice-president, Rozh Nuri Shawes, and foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, are KDP members. It has called for a federal system based on “ethnicity” for the majority-Kurdish governorates of northern Iraq.
PATRIOTIC UNION OF KURDISTAN (PUK)
PUK secretary-general Talabani has been a champion of Kurdish nationalism since the 1960s, when he was a member of the KDP. Talabani split from the KDP to help form the PUK in 1975. Conflict between the two parties has been replaced by cooperation. Talabani welcomed calls for "regime change" in Iraq, while distancing the PUK from US plans to invade. He served as a member of the Governing Council.
Party: The PUK was founded in 1975 by left-wing nationalists in order to "rebuild and redirect Kurdish society along modern and democratic lines". Under Jalal al-Talabani, the PUK created militia forces and a party organization to rival the traditionally dominant KDP, and controls southeastern Kurdistan. A member of the PUK political bureau, Barham Salih, is deputy prime minister of Iraq.
IRAQI COMMUNIST PARTY (ICP)
Hamid Majid Musa
Hamid Majid Musa, a Shi'i, has been the secretary-general of the Iraqi Communist Party since 1993. He was an economist and petroleum researcher prior to the invasion of Iraq. In December 2002, Musa told the ICP party newspaper that relying on "US war, US invasion and liberation by the US" would set a "trap" for the Iraqi opposition. Nevertheless, he became a member of the Governing Council. Party: The Iraqi Communist
Party was founded in 1934, and helped topple the British-backed Iraqi monarchy in 1958. The rise of the Ba'th party saw its members and activities suppressed. The ICP sponsored opposition talks prior to the invasion and quickly re-emerged in Iraq. A party member, Mufid al-Jaza'iri is the minister of culture. The party's platform focuses on the ending of occupation, the restoration of Iraq's sovereignty and democratic rule.
IRAQI INDEPENDENT DEMOCRATS GROUPING
A former diplomat who began his career under the monarchy, Al-Pachachi became foreign minister in 1966. Lived in exile until 2003, serving the president of the UAE as an advisor for nearly 20 years. Was active in the Democratic Centrist Tendency before founding the Iraqi Independent Democrats Grouping. Al-Pachachi is a secular Sunni who has called for elections to be delayed so Sunni groups can abandon their boycott.
Party: Formed in February 2003 by Adnan al-Pachachi, the Iraqi Independent Democrats Grouping aspires to "build a democratic Iraq, regain national sovereignty and fortify the society against the possibility of slipping into a new dictatorship". Although it believes in federalism, it rejects the break-up of Iraq and any ethnic, religious or racial divisions in these elections.
NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY
Al-Chadirchi is the leader of the National Democratic Party of Iraq. A Sunni businessman, lawyer, landowner and democrat who never left Saddam's Iraq, Nasir al-Chadirchi served on the Iraqi Governing Council following the fall of the Ba'thist government. Decline to become a candidate because of his objection to the timing of the elections.
Party: Al-Chadirchi's father, Kamil, was head of the National Democratic Party before the Ba'th party came to power in 1968. Al-Chadirchi refounded the party after the invasion. Party claims it does not represent Sunnis, Shi'is or Kurds - "it represents the Iraqi point of view". The electoral list is led by Ra'uf al-Dabis, a Shi'i.
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