BAGHDAD ø Iraqi officials said the government of Prime Minister Iyad Alawi plans
to meet Saddam operatives over the next few weeks to discuss the prospect of
sharing power in any new post-Saddam regime. They said the meeting would
seek to persuade former leaders of the Baath Party that they could be
participate in a democratic Iraq.
Officials said the government was concerned that the elections would be
boycotted by Iraq's minority Sunni community. Sunni and Kurdish political
parties have called for a six-month delay in Iraqi elections because of the
insurgency in the north and west of Iraq.
"We want to take time to have a dialogue and convince them [insurgents]
to join the process," Adnan Pachachi, head of the Sunni-dominated
Independent Democratic Movement, said.
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said the meetings with former Baath
Party leaders would take place in Jordan before the Jan. 30 elections in
Iraq, Middle East Newsline reported. Zebari said the Alawi government would exclude those Saddam
loyalists deemed as key figures in the insurgency.
"We want all these meetings for national reconciliation and to broaden
the participation of those Iraqis as long as they denounce terror," Zebari
said. "The Jordanian government is facilitating these contacts to encourage
their participation in the elections."
The interim government's campaign could have the effect of
splintering the opposition loyal to Saddam Hussein.
Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, regarded as spiritual leader of Iraqi
Shi'ites, has opposed any postponement of the Jan. 30 elections. On
Saturday, senior government officials as well as a group of 42 parties and
politicians ø most of them Shi'ites ø agreed.
"Postponing the elections is out of the question," Iraqi electoral
commission chairman Abdul Hussein Al Hindawi said. "As far as we are
concerned, the elections will be held at the date scheduled by the
fundamental law. In theory, the elections cannot be postponed, bar a
The date for the meetings in Jordan with Baath leaders has not been
announced. Officials said Jordan and Syria have pledged to cooperate and
persuade the Baathists to attend the meeting.
"In Jordan, we will meet number of political opposition movements to
expand the political process in Iraq," Zebari said. "These are social,
political and some high-ranking Baath leaders who were accused or were on
lists of most wanted people. We will do what can help put an end to all