Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has acknowledged there are what he calls pockets of Iraq that would be too unsafe for voting in a January 30 election, as guerrillas killed 20 people in attacks. Allawi promised to spend $2 billion (1.06 billion pounds) to beef up Iraq's security forces to combat insurgents trying to derail the vote. (Reuters)

Some US analysts are worried Iraq could spiral down into further chaos and even civil war after its January 30 elections, but few here are promoting a delay in the vote. Democratic Senator Joseph Biden, a leading voice in Congress on foreign affairs, said Washington was stuck between two difficult choices. "We are left with a bad choice in holding elections and a worse choice of not holding it," Biden told CNN on Sunday. (Sierra Times)

Delegates from 20 countries that met at a conference on Iraq late last year called at a meeting in Egypt for elections to go ahead as planned on January 30. "The delegations reaffirmed the need to respect UN resolutions on the political process in Iraq, including the elections, which represent a major step," an Egyptian foreign ministry statement said. (AFP via TurkishPress.com)

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiar Zibari said Tuesday the interim government is going to try to bring opposition groups into the nation's upcoming elections. Zibari told reporters in Cairo a reconciliation conference in Baghdad would be aimed at convincing opposition groups to take part in the Jan. 30 elections to select a legislative council that will draft Iraq's new constitution. (UPI via Washington Times)

President Bush spoke by telephone Tuesday with Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi to reaffirm the importance of holding the Jan. 30 elections in that country, the White House said. White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bush spoke for about 10 minutes with Allawi, who has said that some areas of Iraq probably will be too unsafe to take part in the balloting. (AP)

Opinion: The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal: President Bush is holding firm that Iraqi elections must take place at the end of January. It's the best position to take, for now. For all the likely problems with distributing and counting ballots in such a chaotic climate, delaying elections could exacerbate fears the United States isn't committed to removing its troops as soon as possible. (South Bend Tribune)

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