In Iraq, national elections are scheduled for January 30th. The Independent Election Commission of Iraq is charged with organizing and holding the elections. Iraqis will be voting for two-hundred-seventy-five members of a national assembly whose task will be to draft a new constitution. More than two-hundred political parties are participating in the election process. They include both Shia and Sunni Muslims.
Iraq’s Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, says the elections should take place in Iraq despite demands from about seventeen parties for a delay because of continuing violence in some parts of the country. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says that the U.S. supports that intention:
"Prime Minister Allawi has been very clear on that, and we remain very committed to supporting them in reaching that goal. Clearly, we understand the issue that security presents to people. It's also...important to remember, though, that the polling indicates a majority of Iraqis want the election on January 30th."
Mr. Boucher says that coalition and Iraqi forces are working to improve security to ensure that all Iraqis may participate in the January elections:
"The effort has been producing results in different cities, including Najaf, Fallujah and Samarra, and other places. In Fallujah, we not only have been successful in putting...the city back in government hands, but we have reconstruction money ready to flow, something like one-hundred-million dollars worth of reconstruction funds that are ready to go in, starting to go in, indeed, already."
"Denying these strongholds to terrorists and insurgents and putting them under government control," says State Department spokesman Boucher, "makes it possible for more and more Iraqis to participate in the elections."