Dead Men Left

Friday, November 05, 2004

Iraqi National Foundation Congress statement on elections.

I received this preliminary (and slightly condensed) translation of the Iraqi National Foundation Congress' (INFC) statement on the proposed January elections. INFC is rapidly emerging as a unifed political opposition to the occupation of Iraq, representing an extremely broad range of anti-occupation opinion. There is a brief description of the group, also translated, attached below.

Iraqi National Foundation Congress statement on elections- Nov 04

Here is a condensed translation of the statement entitled “Free and fair elections with impartial supervision by international, Arab and Islamic reputable bodies is what the people demand.” It is dated 27 October2004, and published as pictures of a hand-signed leaflet on on 3d November 04.

Political developments have validated the INFC stance of refusing to take part in the Iraqi Governing Council, the current Interim Government and the National Assembly. All these proved to be mere instruments of foreign occupation.
We have always demanded free and fair elections with impartial international supervision so that an elected government can be formed by the popular will, rather than by the occupiers. This stance was consistent with those of many other patriotic forces and religious authorities.

And now that the occupation and its Interim government are claiming they are preparing for elections in January next year, the question arises as to the requirements for it to be free and fair. Our consultations within the Congress and sister groups lead us to formulate these requirements as follows:

That the elections are supervised by a commission of figures with known credentials of impartiality and integrity, internationally and in the Arab and Islamic world.

That this commission supervises all the local committees in all phases of the elections.

That essential changes are made to the still anonymous ‘Permanent Election Commissariat’ appointed by the American ex-governor contrary to any criteria of transparency and integrity. As a minimum:

a. to include a representative from each competing list
b. to include a number of Iraqi active and veteran judges with known integrity
c. to remove the right to arbitrarily bar any candidate in the election except through legal process of incrimination.

That measures are taken to ensure safe and fair conduct of elections in all cities and country towns as follows:

a. an immediate halt to all military operations against towns and neighbourhood.
b. withdrawal of all occupation forces from all towns and neighbourhoods at least one month before election date.
c. release of all political prisoners regardless o their political affiliation especially those not specifically charged.

These are clearly reasonable demands to ensure the integrity of elections as a basis for a legal constituent assembly. It is only this assembly that can enshrine a permanent constitution with a just solution for the Kurdish problem, to the satisfaction of the Kurds as equal partners with Arabs within a united country. This must also guarantee the religious and ethnic rights of the Turkmen, Arab and non-Arab Christians, and all other groups, as well as guaranteeing citizenship, political plurality, human rights, and the right of assembly and of civil society organisations. It is this assembly that paves the way to a speedy schedule for withdrawal of all occupation troops and dismantling of any military presence, all of which are precondition for real sovereignty.

Rejection of these requirements for a fair election would show that there is no serious desire for legality, but rather mere attempts at sowing discord amongst our people, and to legalise the rule of compliant groups that implement occupiers will. The responsibility for the consequences of such a course is entirely on the occupation forces.

Iraqi National Foundation Congress: background

This umbrella grouping was announced in May this year at a meeting in Baghdad attended by several hundred people. It has emerged in the last six months as a widely-supported platform for political opposition to occupation.
The group is composed of academics, professionals, community leaders, religious scholars and veteran moderate Arab-nationalist politicians. It straddles sectarian and ethnic divides, and attempts to formulate the widest platform possible. For that purpose it had kept its 25-member secretariat only partly filled and membership provisional. This allows for the inclusion of other anti-occupation political groups, including, for example, the Muqtada al-Sadr movement which had publicly supported the INFC aims and activity, but is still considering its own forms of religious and political actions and organisation.

The INFC offers the credibility of members who are from well-known backgrounds and high community standing, largely due to a record of independence or opposition to Saddam Hussain’s policies on the one hand, and to the history of criminal sanctions, invasion and occupation. Such community and political credibility is all important in a society that only holds itself together through traditional communal organisations and norms, with an increasing rejection of all the imported and local allies of the US occupation, some of whom of suspect affiliation and background.
The group’s provisional secretary is Sheikh Jawad Al-Khalisi, a non-sectarian religious scholar and ex-exile, and official spokesman Dr. Wamidh Nadhmi, a senior political scientist at Baghdad University. Both they and their colleagues in the secretariat have adopted a cautious course of less publicity and more engagement with communities and local groups. One less publicized aspect of their work is the diffusion of ethnic and sectarian tensions in Kirkuk, and several neighbourhoods in Musul, Baghdad and elsewhere, as well as generally the promotion and setting up of community mediation groups. They have also worked to defend the rights of employment, healthcare and other welfare services of all citizens, calling for maintenance of the technocratic side of the Iraqi state and its legal and thoughtful reforms.

At the same time the group has been in continuous negotiation to formulate a unifying all-Iraqi position on the way out of the current predicament of Iraq, striving for a consensus on a principled political engagement with the occupation. To this end they have consistently upheld the right of armed resistance to occupation, condemned the targeting of Iraqis and the taking of hostages. This all-Iraqi position may still take some time, given the historical mistrust inhered by Saddam’s policies and the huge resources thrown at fragmenting this resource-rich and strategic country. But a group with a non-sectarian, or effectively secular position, and with enlightened balanced approach to the rights of the Kurdish people and Arab-Islamic identity of Iraq, and with open hand to all similar group may be Iraq’s best chance.

The statement on election on the previous sheet is dated 27th November 2004, and hand-signed by Dr. Wamidh Nadhmi, Official Spokesmen, and Shaikh Jawad Khalisi, General Secretary of the Iraqi National Foundation Congress. It was printed as a two-sided leaflet and distributed in Baghdad and other cities. This form of announcement may be a reflection of Iraqi weariness of the prevalence of bogus statements and website in Iraq. The public relies more on hand-delivered messages at community or prayer gatherings than on the new technologies regarded as potentially fraudulent or malicious. The statement appeared as a picture of the leaflet on the website on the 3d November 2004.