Sunni politicians urge delay in Jan. 30 voting
November 25, 2004
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Leading Sunni Muslim politicians Thursday urged postponement of the Jan. 30 national elections, and a senior official said the government had agreed to meet outside the country with Saddam Hussein supporters to try to convince them to abandon the insurgency.
Elsewhere, U.S. troops said they had uncovered the largest weapons cache to date in Fallujah, where Iraqi officials said more than 2,000 people died in the weeklong U.S.-led offensive aimed at curbing the insurgency so that elections could be held.
The Fallujah siege angered many in the influential Sunni minority, producing calls to boycott the ballot, which could cost the new government legitimacy.
Politician Adnan Pachachi, a former foreign minister and a member of the Iraqi National Council, said delaying the ballot by three months or more would enable political leaders to convince Sunni clerics and others to abandon their boycott call.
“I think that it will not be in the interest of anyone to let large segments of the Iraqi population be completely left out of the political process,” Pachachi, leader of the Independent Democrats party, told The Associated Press.
Seven other Sunni parties also demanded a delay in the election, saying they want guarantees that they won’t be marginalized in any new government expected to be dominated by rival Shiites.