For the first time since the fall of the Saddam regime,
Iraqis are taking to the streets to support democracy in their country.
The demonstrations began last week in Baghdad when tens of thousands of
Iraqis expressed their opposition to violence and support for democracy. The
demonstrators appeared to cross religious and ethnic lines and vowed to
block the return of the Saddam regime.
The rallies against the Sunni insurgency were held in several cities
across central Iraq. In some demonstrations, prominent Iraqis pledged to
democracy regardless of the U.S. military presence in their country.
[On Sunday, up to 20 people were killed in a car bombing in the Sunni
town of Khaldiyah, west of Baghdad, Middle East Newsline reported. The attack took place outside an Iraqi
The United States has announced plans to transfer sovereignty to an
Iraqi governing body by July 1, 2004. Iraq also seeks to draft a
constitution in 2005.
Organizers said many Sunnis and other Iraqis fear a takeover by
elements from the old Saddam regime. They said former members of the Saddam
regime were seen returning to municipal councils and security forces.
In the Babel governorate, hundreds of Iraqis demonstrated
against candidates deemed as holdovers from the Saddam regime. The Iraqi
protesters said the candidates were selected by the U.S.-led coalition.
At the same time, the United States has tried to promote democracy in
Iraq through a range of programs. In one program, 200 prominent Iraqis,
including tribal leaders, have been studying democratic principles under
coalition supervision. Most of the participants were said to be Shi'ites.