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Allawi Says Elections On Course


http://gdb.rferl.org/D5362208-C250-432C-8B71-BC13F0C0C9C8_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/D5362208-C250-432C-8B71-BC13F0C0C9C8_mw800_mh600.jpg While Allawi was in Britain, a motion calling for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq was rejected 30 September 2004 -- Speaking in London today, Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said his country will hold elections as scheduled in January and vowed the poll will be fair.

"We are mindful of the most important task entrusted to us: to prepare Iraq for full, free and fair elections, in which every citizen will have an equal say," Allawi said. "We will have those elections in Iraq on time next year, because that is what the vast majority of Iraqis want."

Addressing a crowd at the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London, Allawi spoke about a British hostage in Iraq, Kenneth Bigley. Allawi said it is "repugnant" to take an innocent man and use him as a political pawn.

While Allawi was in Britain, the governing Labour Party rejected a motion calling for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq as soon as possible.

Labour has been deeply divided over the government's strong support for the Iraq war. Had the antiwar motion succeeded today, it would have been a major embarrassment for Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Allawi said that "calls for early withdrawal are music to the ears of terrorists and insurgents."

(Reuters/AFP)

For the latest news on Iraq, see RFE/RL's webpage on "The New Iraq".
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