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President Bush On Iraqi Elections

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

President George W. Bush says that he hopes Iraqis will participate in the January 30th national elections regardless of their religious or political affiliation:

"Most people in Iraq - Sunni or Shia - want to vote. And so the task at hand is to provide as much security as possible. . . .to encourage them to express their will."

On a recent audiotape, al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden said those Iraqis who plan to vote are "infidels." Mr. Bush responded to bin Laden's appeal:

"Osama bin Laden issued a statement, as you know, which made the stakes of this pretty clear to me. His vision of the world is where people don't participate in democracy. His vision of the world is where people kill innocent lives in order to affect their behavior and affect their way of living. His vision of the world is one in which there is no freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and/or freedom of conscience. And that vision stands in stark contrast to the vision of, by far, the vast majority of Iraqis and leaders like Prime Minister [Ayad] Allawi and President [Ghazi] al-Yawer, whose vision includes the freedom of expression, the freedom of the right to vote."

Mr. Bush said that Osama bin Laden's call on Iraqis not to vote shows how important the January elections are.