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Allawi 'not convinced' Iraq elections should wait


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Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi is not convinced that an election delay will secure better unity among political factions in the country for a safe and secure election, his spokesman said Saturday.

"He doesn't want to postpone it," said Thair al-Nakib, Allawi's spokesman.

Fifteen Iraqi political parties, backed by former Iraqi Governing Council President Adnan Pachachi, called for a delay in the nation's planned January 30 elections for a 275-seat transitional national assembly.

The parties said there isn't sufficient time to prepare, campaign and create the secure environment needed for the balloting.

Al-Nakib said Allawi will continue "to urge these parties to take part in the political process because he believes the only way to build stability and democracy is through the participation of all Iraqis in these elections."

"His excellency is not convinced that the postponement of these elections will ensure a larger participation."

Pachachi, however, is pushing for a delay.

"The two main issues are security and the necessity for an inclusive election," he said.

Also agreeing with the postponement was Rasim al-Awadi, secretary-general of the National Accord Party -- the party of Allawi.

Commenting on the request to delay the elections, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said, "The holding and timing of elections is an Iraqi decision.

"The United Nations is only there to advise. But the environment in which elections are held is very important, and there should be a consensus among Iraqis on the timing, as this would be essential to creating a conducive environment for the elections."

U.S. President George W. Bush, speaking to reporters at a restaurant near his ranch in Crawford, Texas, said, "the Iraqi Election Commission has scheduled elections in January, and I would hope they'd go forward in January."

In the past, some Sunni Muslim parties have called for the election to be postponed or said they would boycott the ballot.

The call Friday came at a meeting that marked the first time the Sunni parties were joined by secular parties, including the two major Kurdish parties.

Earlier this week, Iraq's National Election Commission announced the nation's first post-Saddam vote would take place January 30.

"The Iraqi Election Commission has scheduled elections in January, and I would hope they'd go forward in January," said President Bush, speaking to reporters outside a restaurant near his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

The Bush administration is hoping free elections will help stabilize the country and build a sense of legitimacy for the new government.

Administration officials have acknowledged that violence in many parts of the country could make voting dangerous or perhaps even impossible in some places.

Fareed Ayar, a spokesman for the Iraqi Election Commission, said Friday the commission has decided to extend the deadline for all parties nationwide to submit their list of candidates for seats in the transitional national assembly until December 10.

The commission also has extended the deadline for the certification of political parties in three Iraqi regions -- Al Anbar, Mosul and Salahudin -- until December 2 because of violence in those areas that made "gathering, organizing and registering nearly impossible," Ayar said.

The previous deadlines for both registrations had been the end of November.

Ayar said he doubted the elections could be postponed, because neither the Iraqi interim government nor the current national assembly has such authority. The interim Iraqi constitution specified the elections must be held by the end of January.


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