Shiite leader advocates democratic government in Iraq
The leader of the largest Shiite Muslim group that opposed Saddam Hussein said Tuesday that a democratic government should rule Iraq to avoid a "social explosion," apparently backing away from past calls for an Iranian-style Islamic state.
Hakim, who returned from two decades of exile in Iran last week, also said he wanted his group's militia integrated into a new Iraqi national army. "I will be working to set up a government which will represent all the people of Iraq, restore security, reconstruct it and take it out of its isolation," Hakim told a news conference in the holy Shi'ite city of Najaf.
"The majority of Iraqi people are Shi'ite. They should have a political role but not to the exclusion of other Iraqi people," he said. "We want a political revolution and government including all the parties and people of Iraq or there could be some kind of social explosion."
"We want a democratic government which respects Islam. As SCIRI, we call for an Islamic state because we are Islamic," Hakim said, but he added that his group had agreed with other opposition groups to form a pluralistic administration.
"Neither an Islamic government nor a secular administration will work in Iraq but a democratic state that respects Islam as the religion of a majority of the population," he stated. "Our objectives are freedom, independence and justice," the Shiite leader said. "Iraq needs a civil society and a popularly elected government that represents all ethnic, racial and religious groups."
Hakim also repeated his promise for a prominent role for women. "Women make up half of Iraq's population," he said. "They should be given an essential role to play in elections and reconstruction of the country." (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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