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Iraq: Hamad Tries To Break The Cycle Of Sectarian Politics

Democratic Society Movement head Hamid al-Kifa'i held a press briefing in Baghdad on 24 November to discuss his party's goals for the 15 December National Assembly elections, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reported on 25 November. The Democratic Society Movement (Harakat al-Mujtama al-Dimuqrati, or Hamad) has entered the elections under candidate list No. 729. Al-Kifa'i is the former spokesman for the Iraqi Governing Council. Prior to that, he was a well-known journalist in exile. Below are excerpts from the press conference.

Al-Kifa'i speaks about his movement's basic message to voters: We announce our electoral program sincerely and without tricks. We want to represent a new example in Iraqi politics. We will not say [something] that we are not going to do or that we do not believe in. We believe in democracy, stability, a free economy, and international cooperation. We believe that the Iraqi people are able to lead this country into the community of advanced countries. We already declared this in the previous elections, sincerely and strongly, and we will continue to present the same ideas also in this election with the same strength.

We do not cheat, pander, or exaggerate. We express our opinions sincerely. We want to prove that in the new Iraq, free liberal parties can exist that sincerely come to the people with their programs, with a program that will benefit the people and not just with slogans and words.

Al-Kifa'i, on religious and sectarian polarization in Iraqi politics: We do not look at one's religious or ethnic background. We naturally put all communities of the Iraqi people together. We have not chosen people on the grounds of their being Sunnis or Shi’ites. I can say frankly that I do not know whether our candidates are Sunnis or Shi’ites. As far as the Democratic Society Movement is concerned, yes: there are Sunnis, even among its founders. But we absolutely never pay attention to these matters. We are a national party that looks beyond sectarianism and ethnic chauvinism. We do our best to serve the Iraqi people irrespective of their ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Al-Kifa’i, on his movement's electoral program: We have written a broad electoral program. It summarizes the problems of Iraqi society that can be solved within the four coming years: the problem of security, the problem of corruption, the problem of unemployment, the problem of services, and the problem of social security -- because there are hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who are widows, orphans, handicapped, or poor. They need the care of the government. We have a broad and complex program in this regard that is available in print. It is a realistic program. We do not speak [about] theories.

(Translated by Petr Kubalek)

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