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Making A Democratic Iraq: What Are The Challenges? - 2003-03-19

President Bush says once Saddam Hussein is removed from power he wants Iraq to become a democratic country. But Iraq contains several ethnic and religious groups that have a history of not getting along, such as the Kurds, Sunni and Shiites.

Zanethemba Mkalipi is a researcher with the Institute for Democracy in South Africa, known as IDASA. From Cape Town, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the challenges facing the creation of a democratic Iraq.

He says the Iraqi people must not feel that democracy “is being imposed on them by the United States.” He says even before a new constitution is drawn up or elections are held, the “psyche of the Iraqi people” must accept democracy on their own terms. To accomplish this, Mr. Mkalipi says, will require the help of civil society and non-governmental organizations, which he calls the “lifeblood of a liberal democracy.”

Also, he says despite the rift between the United States and the United Nations, the United Nations will have to play a crucial role in helping establish democracy in Iraq. He says input is needed from both large and small members of the UN in order for a democratic Iraq to be accepted by the rest of the world.

Click the above links to download or listen to De Capua interview with mr. Mkalipi.