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Shi'ites Pledge To Include Sunnis In Political Process

1 February 2005 -- As Iraqi election officials continue counting the ballots from the 30 January national polls, a leading Shi'ite Muslim politician is reiterating that the country's new government will include members of the Sunni minority.

The remarks by Shi'ite leader Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim of the United Iraqi Alliance yesterday come as election officials say many Sunnis did not vote, both out of fear of violence and calls for an election boycott by some Sunni leaders.

Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi yesterday called on all Iraqis -- whether they voted or not -- to support his government's efforts to build an "inclusive" National Assembly that will represent the entire country.

"Within a week or two members of the newly elected National Assembly will be nominated, after which a new and inclusive government will be formed. Together with the other members of the interim government I will strive to ensure success for this process. During the transitional period we will lead the government with flexibility but firmly," Allawi said.

Official final election results are not expected for more than a week.