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23 December 2004 -- Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi says next month's elections will be "transparent and competitive."
In a commentary published today in "The Wall Street Journal," he writes that the elections on 30 January will present Iraqis with a unique opportunity to start shaping their own future.
Allawi said that, despite widespread pessimism, he perceives encouraging signs as Iraqis register to vote, and thousands of candidates from across the political spectrum come forward.
He conceded, however, that there is "a combination of terrorists and loyalists of the former regime" who will attempt to undermine the process.