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Powell On Iraqi Elections

The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government:

On January 30th, Iraqi voters are scheduled to elect eighteen provincial councils and a two-hundred-seventy-five member national assembly that will appoint a central government and draft Iraq's constitution. Iraq's largest Sunni political party, the Iraqi Islamic Party, announced that is dropping out of the upcoming elections.

The president of Iraq's interim government, Ghazi Al-Yawer, and its prime minister, Iyad Alawi, have said that the elections will go ahead as planned. They have also said it is important that Iraqis, regardless of their religious or political affiliation, participate in the voting.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said the United States is urging Iraq's Sunni community to take part in the elections:

"We are encouraging all Sunnis and all Sunni leaders to join in this effort to say no to terrorism, no to murder, and yes to democracy. We are also talking to all of our friends in the region, the neighboring countries that have influence and contacts with the Sunni community, to get them to encourage Sunni leaders to turn out the vote."

Mr. Powell said that military commanders of the U.S.-led coalition are working with the Iraqi government to improve security so that Iraqis will feel safer in coming out to vote:

"It's interesting that even with difficult security conditions, people are working to put in place polling stations, to put in place the infrastructure needed to have an election, even within the Sunni areas."

Secretary of State Colin Powell said that Iraq's interim government and the U.S.-led coalition are moving to ensure that any Iraqi citizen who wants to vote will be able to do so.