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Iraq: Members Of Patriots Grouping Discuss Party Platform

(RFE/RL) RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) spoke with two regional representatives of the Patriots (Wataniyun) Grouping, Rasim al-Miqdadi and Ban al-Bayati, in Ba'qubah on 17 November about the grouping's view on the parliamentary election.

Rasim al-Miqdadi: The candidates of the Patriots Grouping -- led by the Iraqi Patriotic Movement -- are trying in the Diyala Governorate to bring an end to the persistent crises in the governorate, to stabilize the security situation, and to try to find solutions for the sectarian-based rule that has led to a hijacking of the state with its institutions and services. We want to achieve this through improving the work of institutions. Without that [work], power would remain in the hands of a narrow group, [a phenomenon] that brings about dictatorships.

Our list of candidates has arisen from people's optimism and hopes in creating a new future, as well as from the common opinion that a weak government cannot provide services. Only a strong government is able to lead Iraq out of its hardships and crises.

Ban al-Bayati: The future government of Iraq, for which our list of candidates aspires, hopefully will be a competent government and, of course, a nonsectarian one, chosen from [representatives of] the people. It should reflect patriotism, nationalism, liberalism, and everything the people want without getting involved in issues of sectarianism and discrimination between Kurds and Arabs or Sunnis and Shi'ites.

RFI: The situation in the Diyala Governorate is somewhat special as the governorate represents the whole of Iraq [in terms of diversity]. How will you address this multifaceted society?

Al-Bayati: Diyala Governorate has been known as a cell where all Iraqi communities are present. There are Kurds, Arabs, Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims, and even Christians. I think this is a mixture that is difficult to address. God willing we will be trying now to represent all these groups without leaning extremely towards one of these groups, irrespective of our being Sunnis or Shi'ites, Kurds, or Arabs. I believe we represent the people of Diyala [Governorate], and this is the most important point. We hope all the people of the Diyala [Governorate] will be affected by the idea that we are a list that does not represent just one particular community but represents all the people of the Diyala [Governorate].

God willing, we will do our best to solve the problems related to the special mood of the Diyala [Governorate]. There is, one can say, a misunderstanding on the part of many groups, especially youth, who become attracted to circles based on money or sectarianism. We try to find solutions for these youth. Our goal is, God willing, a restoration of the Iraqi Army and providing jobs for the unemployed. These are our priorities. We hope to reach a point of mutual understanding on these issues in the [next] Iraqi government.

RFI: Will the campaign of night raids and arrests, recently performed by the security forces in the [Diyala Governorate] have an impact on the elections here?

Al-Bayati: Definitely. Last night, I heard that the area around my house in the Al-Mustafa quarter had to be evacuated. But why? People told me that the [Interior Ministry's unit called the] Wolf Brigade entered there at night. We were advised to vacate the houses because there were random arrests of youths. I told my family to stay, adding that I would face the problem with them. I am one of the people, and I will withdraw from the elections if these random arrests of youths and this terror on our youth continues.

(Translated by Petr Kubalek)