Iraq election: Shiites present powerful list

Published December 9th, 2004 - 09:14 GMT

Iraq's mainstream Shiite groups Thursday unveiled a list of 228 candidates for the Jan. 30 elections, presenting a powerful, united front in their bid to gain a leading role in post-Saddam Iraq. The list of 23 parties is dubbed the United Iraqi Alliance.

Iraq's prominent Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, backed the list.

The 228 candidates consist of independent Sunni Muslims, a Shiite Kurdish group, members of the Yazidis minority religious sect, and a Turkomen movement, among others. Also among them are members of the Iraqi National Congress, led by former exile Ahmad Chalabi.

According to the AP, the alliance includes the major Shiite political parties, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution and the Islamic Dawa Party. Both have strong links with Iran.

Iraqis will choose a 275-member assembly that will write a permanent constitution. Voting will be done by party list, meaning people will vote not for individual candidates but for coalitions.

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