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Shi’ites and Sunnis Have Different Views of Iraqi Election


Iraq's interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi says he wants to ensure all parts of Iraqi society play a role in the country's new government. He made that comment after meeting with leaders of the country's political and religious factions, in the wake of last Sunday's historic national elections.

Mr. Allawi's talks included Sunni leaders, whose community largely stayed away from the election. But an influential association of Iraq's Sunni Muslim clerics says the vote lacked legitimacy because so many Sunnis did not vote.

Election workers continue to count the votes in last Sunday's Iraqi national election. But three days after the balloting, the election commission had not released any turnout figures or results, promising them within a week.

The head of the main Shi’ite political group, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, implied Wednesday that his group would insist on taking over the Prime Minister's post, if the faction gets the largest share of seats in the Iraqi Assembly.

Meanwhile, Sunni leaders say the election is not legitimate because many Sunni Arabs did not take part. Mr. Hakim promises that Sunnis will be included in the new government and will have a role in drafting a constitution.

Iraq's interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi is making similar promises. "Today we are entering a new phase in our history and it is a time for all Iraqis to come together to build our future. Those who voted, those who didn't vote," Allawi said.

In Mosul, Yousif Ali explained why he did vote in the election. "We want Iraq to return to how it was. We want our freedom and security and hopefully things will improve."

Mohammad Abdul Munim explained why he did not vote. "I didn't take part. There is no government and we don't know which candidate to vote for. The present government has come from abroad -- they were all in America or in Britain."

In an interview with VOA's Setareh Derakhsesh, Laith Kubba, of the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy, said all sides in Iraq must reconcile. “Iraqis, what they have to share, is a country and it’s only a matter of time that they realize, both Shi’ites and Sunnis, that they have to build that country together. Nobody can eliminate the other. They cannot divide the land. They cannot divide the resources. They are very intermixed in marriages and all over Iraq," he said.

But reconciliation is likely to take some time. While election officials were still tallying votes Wednesday, the relative calm of the immediate post-election period faded as an oil pipeline was blown up and insurgents killed at least five people.