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11/26/04 - IRAQ ELECTION  - 2004-11-29

On January 30th, Iraqis will vote to choose two-hundred-seventy-five members of a national assembly. More than two-hundred political parties are already registered. United Nations monitors are in Iraq to prepare for the election.

Once elected, the national assembly will draft a new constitution. Voters will return to the polls later in 2005 to vote on the document. Salama al-Khafaji, a member of the interim National Council, says, "Having elections in Iraq is very important, and having them on time is also...important."

Terrorist attacks continue in parts of Iraq. But the insurgency will not disrupt the election process. Farid Ayar, a spokesman for Iraq's electoral commission, says, "No Iraqi province will be excluded because the law considers Iraq as one constituency, and therefore, it is not legal to exclude any province." The commission has begun a campaign to inform Iraqis about the election process and encourage them to vote.

President George W. Bush says that the elections are an important step forward:

"The United States of America will stay the course and we will complete the task. We will help Iraq develop a democracy and the world will be better off for it. Free societies don't attack each other. Democracies listen to the aspirations of their people, not feed hatred and resentment and future terrorists."

Khalood al-Zayadi is a thirty-year-old woman who works at an Iraqi newspaper. She says that almost everyone in Iraq wants the election:

"Many things change. Maybe the government changes. Maybe the leader of Iraq change[s]. Maybe laws of Iraq will change. Many, many things will be changed."

"At every stage in this process of establishing self-government, the Iraqi people and their leaders have met the schedules they set, and have overcome their challenges with confidence," says President Bush. And, "they will continue to do so."