RFI: Could you please tell us a few words about your bloc?
Awwad: The Loyalty to the South bloc is a list that has come out from the south [of Iraq], from Dhi Qar Governorate in particular. The name Loyalty to the South does not mean disloyalty to the country, because its general slogan is loyalty to Iraq. We have, however, chosen the name Loyalty to the South as our distinguishing mark because we belong to this soil, to the good people of the south. We had to choose some distinction so we decided for Loyalty to the South and established an electoral list under this name.
RFI: Does the name currently represent the [demand to establish an autonomous] southern region?
Awwad: No, not in fact. Our list is not a list [supportive] of [establishing a] southern region, but there are other political forces that represent [such a movement], such as the General Secretariat for the South Region, which is calling for the establishment of such a region. The name Loyalty to the South does not necessarily mean that the bloc calls for [establishing an autonomous] southern region. As I have said, it simply means loyalty to the south [of Iraq], but not to [the idea of an autonomous] southern region. And, consequently, it means loyalty to Iraq.
RFI: What can you say about your electoral campaign?
Awwad: The Loyalty to the South bloc is the list No. 836. It is only in Dhi Qar Governorate. We do not have candidates in other governorates, as is the case of other political entities. Our list concentrates at running from the Dhi Qar Governorate in the proportional representation [system]. That is also why our electoral campaign has been limited to Dhi Qar Governorate. It began a few days ago. We [are carrying out] two types of electoral campaigning: closed and direct. The closed campaign is going on among the followers and sympathizers of this bloc while the direct campaign means going to the public of Dhi Qar [Governorate].
RFI: Does the bloc have a broad base of followers?
Awwad: We suppose that the popular support we have in the Dhi Qar Governorate will qualify us for winning a few seats to represent the governorate [in Iraq’s next parliament]. I imagine that this can expand in the future to other governorates further to the south. We already have friendly ties and relations to some politicians and political entities of a popular character, to intellectuals and politicians in other governorates of the South. We plan to expand them in the future, God willing.
(Translated by Petr Kubalek)
RFE/RL's coverage, background, and analysis of Iraq's December 15, 2005, legislative elections.