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Iraqi Parties Differ On Insurgent Groups Joining Politics


An armed member of a so-called Awakening Council in central Baghdad (file photo)

An armed member of a so-called Awakening Council in central Baghdad (file photo)

BAGHDAD -- The Iraqi government's announcement that five insurgent groups have renounced violence and will join the political process has been met with different reactions by the country's political factions, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq reports.

National Reconciliation Minister Amir al-Khuzaei said on March 23 that the names of the five groups who have agreed to disarm would be disclosed in the next few days.

He added that there were other groups in contact with the government who are considering taking similar action.

But Hakim Abbas, a member of the Sadrist parliamentary bloc within the Shi'ite National Alliance, says that the militants involved with these groups are pro-Saddam Baathists implicated in past wrongdoing.

He says accommodating them runs counter to all political understandings between the major factions.

Abbas adds that the Sadrist bloc in parliament will move to summon Khuzaei for questioning about his announcement.

Muhammad Shawan, a member of the Kurdish parliamentary bloc, says that the Kurds want to know more about the armed groups in question before they take a position on them.

Shawan says Iraq is a democracy and there is room for all parties in keeping with political pluralism so long as those who join the political process are not wanted by the law.

Shakir Kitab, a member of the Al-Iraqiyah parliamentary bloc, says that the renouncement of violence by the five armed groups is a welcome development that will help broaden the political process.

Kitab says Al-Iraqiyah urges other groups outside the political process to join in and help strengthen civil peace.

A representative of the five groups, Sheikh Mahmud, told reporters at the press conference on March 23 that the decision to lay down their arms and join the political process was made because U.S. forces are no longer visible on Iraqi streets.
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