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Ballot Boxes Only Way To Establish Legitimate Rule in Iraq, Exile Leader Says

(Prague, Czech Republic--April 10, 2003) A prominent exile Iraqi opposition leader said today that the only legitimate leadership for his long-suffering country is one that is won through ballot boxes. Bakhtiar Amin, Executive Director of the Paris-based International Alliance for Justice (IAJ), called for the establishment of a "new legacy" by any future Iraqi government that would include de-Ba'athification (deconstruction of the Ba'ath Party system) and a political system that reflects the interests of all of the country's minority groups. Amin made his comments during a roundtable discussion at RFE/RL's Prague broadcast operations center.

Amin discussed the suffering of Iraqis, particularly the plight of minorities, under the regime of Saddam Hussein, including human rights abuses, forced migration and Arabization. The most crucial tasks now facing the Iraqi people, according to Amin, include setting up a new constitutional assembly, conducting a national census to determine the current ethnic composition of Iraq, organizing free parliamentary elections, and the establishment of a war crimes tribunal to prosecute members of the Hussein regime.

Asked whether there was a potential for Iraq to erupt into sectarian violence, Amin replied, "This is the beauty of Iraq, that it's a multiethnic and multireligious society. The future government of Iraq has to reflect the ethnic and religious composition of the Iraqi society: a government which embraces all its citizens, all its various ethnic groups, and religious groups, and respects this diversity and specificity of each one. I don't see any risk of explosion or Balkanization of Iraq, or civil war in Iraq, if we do things correctly, and don't repeat errors of the past."

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