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Interview: RFI Speaks To Iraqi Vice President --> In an exclusive interview with RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq, Iraqi Vice President Ibrahim al-Ja'fari said that 30 January is a "day of victory" for the Iraqi people. (The following is a transcript of the RFI report.) Click here --> for more election-related interviews from Radio Free Iraq.

RFI: Al-Ja'fari assured listeners early in the day that the interest [in voting] will gradually grow [throughout the day].

Al-Ja'fari: Despite what could be seen on television screens, I believe that all Iraqis have fought their way to ballot boxes and thus have shown in a concrete and visible way that they stand above all challenges. I am convinced that the coming hours will witness an increasing interest [in voting] in spite of the existing threats and problems. Iraq will hopefully write its new history with ink after it wrote its past history with blood. In the near future, it will further draw with drops of sweat the building of new Iraq, and it will depart from the age of tears of sorrow.

This was already clear in the strong will of people to write their history themselves and in their determination to hold the elections. This is the natural way to build a new Iraq.... This is a day of victory for us.... The Iraqi people have chosen to realize their will by holding elections.

RFI: Al-Ja'fari expressed his feelings on this occasion by saying:

Al-Ja'fari: As I said before, it would not make any sense to express here any feelings. Nevertheless, I have decided to deliver a message that I feel that our people have managed to show the world that they are brave and responsible. They have a conscious and responsible attitude towards the elections. They are brave to demonstrate to the world that they mean what they say and that they will do what they believe in. When these two essential qualities are present, the truth is going to prevail over the [grim] reality.... This is a people who are able to continue the building of their civilization inherited from ancient times. They have united their history with their heritage and from these two chain links they will make their future.

RFI: Asked about the demand of the [Sunni-dominated] Iraqi Islamic Party to participate in drafting the constitution despite its boycott of the elections, al-Ja'fari said:

Al-Ja'fari: As far as I am concerned, my relations with the [Iraqi] Islamic Party are long-lasting, good, and brotherly on all levels. I wish that our brothers from the [Iraqi] Islamic Party, as well as all sections of Iraqi society that are willing to look for a bright future and who share our deep feelings for Iraq, participate in everything regarding Iraq, be it the constitution or other political affairs. Iraq is a home open to all Iraqis and we cannot exclude anyone.

For news, background, and analysis on Iraq's historic 30 January elections, see RFE/RL's webpage "Iraq Votes 2005."