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RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq Speaks With Al-Sadr Aide --> Muqtada al-Sadr (file photo) Radio Free Iraq (RFI) posed questions on 9 January to Abd al-Hadi al-Darraji, an aide to Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Al-Darraji spoke about al-Sadr's opposition to participating in national elections on 30 January. Translation by RFI's Petr Kubalek.

RFI correspondent Imad Jasim: In an interview with several journalists, Sheikh Abd al-Hadi al-Darraji, the official spokesman for Muqtada al-Sadr, has confirmed the determination of Al-Sadr's stream not to participate in the upcoming elections. He has denied what had occasionally appeared in the media that a number of personalities who represent Al-Sadr's line would take part in the elections. He has elaborated in a statement he has read out for the media [reporters] that the information appearing in some newspapers is a rumor without any piece of truth in it, saying as well that the participation of Al-Sadr's stream would only come true under certain conditions. Among them is a broad participation of Sunni parties and laying down a deadline for the U.S. troops to leave, according to what Sheikh Abd al-Hadi al-Darraji has said.

Al-Darraji: Recently, some unjustified claims have been getting about, both in writing and speech, as well as statements and rumors, falsely suggesting that Al-Sadr's stream has joined one of the electoral lists of candidates, or that it supports one particular candidates list. The Supreme Political Committee of the Honorable Office wants to confirm that such allegations are completely bare of truth. They are nothing but slander and libel. We want to declare that the blessed Al-Sadr's line does not participate in any candidates list and has not supported any candidates list. The stance of Al-Sadr's line has been announced officially, through the offices and committees of the [Al-Sadr] line that are widespread throughout Iraq. The media has been notified about that stance.
"The will of the people is stronger than the tyrants, stronger than those few henchmen, stronger than those panderers who speak about the rise of new Iraq."

Dear brothers, I would like to focus on a very important topic that has been mentioned in the "Israqat [al-Sadr" the cleric's weekly] newspaper that there is a candidates list under the name of Al-Sadr's stream. This is definitely not true. These are futile rumors that are not based on truth. Al-Sadr's stream has so far not supported any specific candidates list because the [foreign military] occupation has been continuing and because our Sunni brothers, who have shared with us both the daily bread winning and the pains and injuries of this honorable country, do not participate [in the elections]. For this, we would ask everyone to pay attention that al-Sadr's stream has not issued any statement that it would indeed take part in the elections and has not presented any candidates list in this regard.

RFI: Are there any conditions for your participation in the elections? Have you specified any conditions under which you would participate in the elections?

Al-Darraji: Yes, Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr has laid down the principal condition when he said that if the occupiers left our country, we would look positively at the participation in the electoral process, because we are Iraqis, our identity is Iraqi, and all Iraqis have to give their votes in the elections. This is first. Second, it is a schedule, a deadline for the occupation. We already had given this condition before: if there was a deadline for the occupation, then our participation in the elections may be possible.

RFI: Do not you think that these [conditions] are unrealistic?

Al-Darraji: There are things that seem unrealistic but should be considered realistic. When it is said that America is strong, we say, 'It is the blessed and sublime God who is strong.' There will come a day when these [U.S.] troops leave, as they are right now caught in the dead end that is called the Iraqi issue. So, how should they leave? On this, I say that there must come a day when these American forces leave in a prompt, despicable, and hated manner, if the blessed and sublime God allows, by the will of Iraqis and not by the will of those who had been installed by the occupation forces. Consequently, the will of the people is stronger than the tyrants, stronger than those few henchmen, stronger than those panderers who speak about the rise of new Iraq.

I say that the task that lays upon is to speak out that these elections, taking place with the presence of the occupiers, have to be refused. Also the deprivation [of elections] for such a huge number of Iraqis has to be refused as well. The Islamic orientation makes us say that the occupiers have intervened in the affairs of elections, and our religious duty forces us to make this most important matter clear.