Yet another car bomb went off today. Leading Iraqi political parties, including the two main Kurdish groups closely allied to the United States, called for elections scheduled for Jan. 30 to be delayed because of Iraq’s increasing violence. (Stringer/Iraq/Reuters)
Bush wants these elections at the end of January so he can declare things under Iraqi control ASAP and begin his exit strategy, no matter how many car bombs go off in the streets or rocket-propelled grenades shoot over into the Green Zone. If these Iraqi leaders have any sense, they need to refuse to hold elections until everyone in every city can be assured of the ability to vote without getting killed.
Following a meeting at the Baghdad home of Adnan Pachachi, an influential, moderate Sunni leader and former presidential candidate, 15 political parties and groups signed a petition calling for the election to be put off for up to six months.
“The participants call for elections to be delayed and to be held within six months, allowing for changes in the security situation and completion of necessary arrangements in terms of organization and administration,” the petition read.
Three interim government ministers attended the meeting and representatives from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) signed the petition.
A delegate from the Iraqi National Accord, headed by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, attended but did not sign.
President Bush in Crawford, Texas, said he wanted the vote as scheduled.
“In terms of Iraq, the Iraqi Election Commission has scheduled elections in January, and I would hope they’d go forward in January,” Bush said.
…The call for postponement comes amid mounting violence, particularly in Sunni Muslim areas to the north and west of Baghdad, and follows calls from influential Sunni religious and political groups for the poll to be postponed.
British security firm Global Risk Strategies said four of its employees were killed and about 15 wounded in a mortar attack on the heavily defended Green Zone on Thursday.
In recent weeks, the Muslim Clerics’ Association, a group of senior Sunni scholars, has called for a boycott of the poll. And the Iraqi Islamic Party, the country’s main Sunni party, which also attending the meeting and signed the petition, has said it will boycott the elections if they go ahead as planned.
In the wake of the U.S.-led offensive on the Sunni city of Falluja, and fighting in Sunni-dominant towns such as Samarra, Baquba, Tikrit and areas around Baghdad, the parties argue that there is not enough time to arrange free and fair elections.