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Powell And Bush On Iraqi Election

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

Insurgents continue to carry out terrorist attacks against U.S.-led coalition forces and Iraqi governmental officials. One of their aims is to disrupt Iraq's upcoming elections. In those elections, Iraqis will choose two-hundred-and-seventy-five members of a Transitional National Assembly, which will write a new constitution for Iraq.

Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi says the attacks will not derail the vote. "We're committed," he said, "to facing these difficulties in cooperation with the multinational forces." U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell agrees there is no alternative to Iraq's January 30th elections. The Iraqi people, he said, deserve the opportunity to choose how they will be governed:

"Our position and the position of the Iraqi interim government and the overwhelming desire of the Iraqi people is to have this election. The U.N. stands behind this election now, as do the neighbors of Iraq. And so we're going to go forward and have the election, and we hope that the election will give the Iraqi people the opportunity to decide how they're going to be governed in the selection of a transitional national assembly."

Mr. Powell says he hopes that most Iraqi Sunnis feel they have a fair opportunity to participate in the elections. President George W. Bush said that the Iraqi elections will be a watershed:

"Who could have possibly envisioned an election in Iraq at this point in history? And yet we're going to have an election. . . .A lot of people are incredibly excited about the thought of having an election in Iraq inside the Iraqi territory, except for a handful who want to stop democracy."

Mr. Bush said that the Iraqi elections, together with the Palestinian elections that took place on January 9th, will make January 2005 an "extraordinary month."