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Iraq: RFI Speaks With Iraqi Nation Party Secretary-General

Iraqis voting in the January elections Mithal al-Alusi, Iraqi Al-Ummah (Nation) Party secretary-general, gave an exclusive interview to Radio Free Iraq (RFI) on 13 October, in which he welcomed the deal reached on the constitution draft amendments the day before.

Al-Alusi: What has happened in the recent days and hours is a proof of good intentions and big determination of all parties with both religious and liberal orientation, to successfully conclude the political process. That makes me happy that we have reached this point and happy that we can clearly say again. There is nothing called “interim constitution of Iraq”; there is something that is a vivid constitution. The National Assembly, representing the Iraqi people today, tomorrow, and after, will have the chance to make steps toward changes in the constitution, with an absolute majority [of votes] and within the needs and interests of Iraq. This is the way in which developed civilized nations live, and this is what we want for our people and our homeland -- to have its place among the nations.

RFI: You have called the constitution "vivid" and "non-interim," precisely as Iraqis will want it for the coming generations. Do you think that the [political] scene expects more cooperation and convergence among the parties that seemed, not long ago, dispersed and distant from the political process?

Al-Alusi: The scene needs to mature. We must get out of the vast vacuum in morals, behavior, politics, economy, and security that has been left behind by the regime of Saddam [Hussein] and the gang of Al-Qaeda, along with criminals and foreign interventions. This is natural. We have to remind [others] all the time that the political process in Iraq has been moving in big, accelerating, steps. This is proof of the noble character of the people who have rejected sectarian strife. This is proof of the determination of political movements, despite the differences in their political doctrines, to abandon hardship in order to build a new Iraq.

RFI: Has the Iraqi Al-Ummah Party adopted new and different plans for the coming period of the political process? What are your preparations for the next elections?

Al-Alusi: With all sincerity, the Iraqi Al-Ummah Party rejects the principle “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” so that we can share power.

The [party] rejects the principle of new idols of the political process. We rely on the Iraqi people, on the needs of Iraqis, and on objective politics. That is why there is no place for Saddam [Hussein] and Saddam’s likes in the new Iraq. We want a constitutional pluralist state. We want the separation of powers. We want nonpoliticized laws. We must pay attention to the needs of citizens. Where should our children go when they graduate from Iraqi universities? To terrorists, to drugs, to the street, to inferior jobs? No, we want to revive the economy. Boosting the economy is a highly important process that must be, however, performed reasonably and logically.

Small countries must be happy when they find alliances serving their benefits. We stress our strategic partnership with the United States so that our borders are protected and our army [developed], so that we get out of the dead end of the huge debts that have been piled up over Iraq and receive technologies. Iraqi interests are the first and the last criteria for the Iraqi Al-Ummah Party, but without [forgetting] general facts. That is, Iraq cannot be liberated unless Iraqi individuals are liberated -- individual freedom, freedom of thought and judgment, freedom of opinion.

RFI: The last elections [in January 2005] highlighted the yawning gap between the discourse of some political parties and movements, on the one hand, and the popular scene, on the other hand. Consequently, [these parties and movements] won too few votes to count, and you may have been among them. As a leading member in the Iraqi Al-Ummah Party, how do you currently interpret the Iraqi political scene and how are you working to secure your electoral outcome in the next election?

Al-Alusi: Our work has not been aimed at preparing a base of voters in Iraq. We have worked for clarifying facts. We have worked for standing with Iraqis at times when some politicians were drowning in the obscurities of corruption and protectionism, or in the obscurities of regional diplomatic games. It will be a great honor if Iraqi citizens bestow their trust on us. And if they do not bestow their trust on us, we will have to work and make decisions for the benefit of the citizens of Iraq. This is the task of us as politicians. Loyalty to Iraqis is the first and the last.

(Translation by Petr Kubalek)

For RFE/RL's full coverage of Iraq's constitutional referendum, see "Iraq Votes: Constitution Referendum"