BEIJING, Dec. 16 -- Iraqi
Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has unveiled his candidacy for the general elections
on January 30. His name appears at the top of a list of candidates submitted by
his electoral alliance for seats in the 275-member National Assembly. Wednesday
was the registration deadline.
Minister Iyad Allawi has unveiled his candidacy for the general elections
on January 30. His name appears at the top of a list of candidates
submitted by his electoral alliance for seats in the 275-member National
Assembly. Wednesday was the registration deadline.
The same day, the interim government announced that the man known as
"Chemical Ali" will be the first of Saddam's senior officials to face trial.
Under tight security, Allawi announced the list of his alliance. It
includes a number of ministers from his interim government, together with
members of the current National Assembly.
Allawi said, "As Iraq is on the threshold of a new era when its people will
practice for the first time in history their right to elections, we announce our
participation in the democratic process and put forward an Iraqi national list,
which reflects the composition of the Iraqi people and responds to their
Allawi said the top priorities of his alliance is achieving stability in
Iraq and rebuilding a strong army capable of defending itself in the future.
According to the Electoral Commission, 89 blocs or alliances are set to
contest the poll. The strongest alliance appears to be the United Iraqi Alliance
formed under the auspices of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's foremost Shi'ite
cleric. Other lists include one from the Iraqi Islamic Party, the country's
foremost Sunni Muslim party.
As registration closed, campaigning got under way. But out on the streets
of Baghdad, concern about violence kept candidates away. Election organizers
worry that violence will dampen voter turnout, and many Iraqis, especially from
the once powerful Sunni minority, will simply stay away.
Also on Wednesday, Iraq's interim defense minister Hazim al-Shaalan
announced the first leader of the Saddam Hussein regime to be tried for war
crimes. Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known in the West as "Chemical Ali." The
trial could begin as early as next week. Majid is accused of some of the worst
crimes, including the gassing of up to 5,000 Kurds in northern Iraq in the late