Sunday, February 13, 2005

Shiites, Kurds Sweep to Victory in Iraq

Yahoo! News - Shiites, Kurds Sweep to Victory in Iraq

No date has been set for convening the new assembly. Its first task will be to elect a president and two vice presidents by a two-thirds majority. So far the only declared presidential candidate is a Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani. The three will choose a new prime minister subject to assembly approval.

Mindful of such tensions, Shiite leaders went out of their way Sunday to assure disaffected Sunnis, as well as Turkomen, Christians and others, that they would have a place in the new Iraq and a role in drafting the new constitution.

Abdul-Mahdi, the finance minister and possible prime minister, insisted that Shiite leaders do not want "an Islamic government."

And the Shiite ticket's leader, Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, told Iraqi television: "We believe in the need for participation and will seek harmony among all segments of the Iraqi people."

Al-Hakim, who lost 19 family members to Saddam's executioners, sat and wept as he heard the results.

But finding credible Sunni leaders — who can speak for both average Sunnis and also reach out to the insurgency — could prove difficult.

Although the Shiite ticket included some Sunnis, prominent Sunni Arab politicians fared poorly due to the boycott: The list headed by interim President Ghazi al-Yawer, a Sunni Arab, won only 150,680 votes. The ticket led by Sunni elder statesman Adnan Pachachi gained only 12,728 votes.

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