London, Asharq Al-Awsat-Rassim al Awadi, a leading member in the Iraqi National Accord, headed by former Iraqi Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, announced a national unity conference to be held in Baghdad, at the end of September .
In an exclusive interview with Asharq al Awsat, al Awadi stated, “Several Iraqi parties from across the political spectrum will take part in the meeting, including liberal and moderate Islamic groups, leading Iraqi and Arab politicians, figures from across the region, and representative from the Arab League.” He added, the conference will be held in the Iraqi capital as it will only discuss national issues.
Informed sources said the meeting would most likely take place on the 24th of September, 2005. Some of the 36 parties and personalities expected to attend are, according to al Awadi, “The Iraqi Communist Party, National Democratic Alliance, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the Islamic Party, Alliance of Independent Democrats, Kurdish Democratic Party, National Democratic Party, Iraqi National Accord, in addition to both Sunni and Shia tribal leaders.” He emphasized, “The meeting is open to all parties who seek a bright future for Iraq.”
As for Arab participants, al Awadi indicated, “A number of leading politicians and representatives from the Arab League and neighboring countries will take part to advance national unity and combat sectarianism to recreate Iraq’s historical role in the Arab and Islamic worlds and beyond.”
The conference aims “to preserve the Arab identity of Iraq and promote national unity and reject all the schemes to divide the country and its people and stand firm against sectarianism to safeguard our people from those who plan to enflame sectarian passions, as well as guarantee the rights of different ethnic and minority groups.”
A member of the National Assembly and the committee which drafted the constitution, al Awadi revelaed his party had reservations on the identity of Iraq and the federal structure in the center and south of the country and objected to the absence of any mention of women’s rights. He accepted the Kurds had a right to preserve their autonomous rule in Kurdistan as they had been governing themselves since the end of the Gulf War. Even so, he added, “the Kurdish people have always believed a united Iraq will protect its entire people.”
It was still possible, al Awadi indicated, to incorporate changes to the constitution when the next Parliament convenes, stressing “all parties should take part in the debate. It is crucial the document is agreed upon by the majority. The people of Iraq have the final say; they will cast their votes and decide to accept or reject the constitution by which they will be governed.”
Addressing the Iraqi people, the politician admitted the country was going through difficult times and called on the population to “choose representatives that will speak on your behalf far from sectarian and ethnic slogans so a federal and united Iraq will emerge.” He added, “Our hope is representatives will be selected based on professionalism and not for financial reasons.”
As for foreign meddling in Iraqi affairs, al Awadi criticized Iraq’s neighbors for exporting terrorism and depriving a large section of the country from taking part in the parliamentary elections, thereby creating a non-representative National Assembly. “All our neighbors guilty; terrorism is not only violence but corrupting the hearts and minds of the people, smuggling drugs and flooding the country with arms and explosives from Iran.” He condemned national media for not portraying the truth to the people of Iraq.