Iraq President, Ministers Rejoice at Success of Election in RFE/RL Interviews
(Prague, Czech Republic--January 31, 2005) Iraqi President Sheikh Ghazi Ajil al-Yawir, during an exclusive interview with Radio Free Iraq (RFI) Baghdad correspondent Ahmad Al-Zubaydi after voting on January 30 in Iraq's first free election in decades, called the election "A victory for the will of the Iraqi people and a defeat for terrorism." President Al-Yawir added, "I am proud to put this ink on my thumb. It is the same for every Iraqi, as no one is above the law... The law governs over all at this time, God willing"
Al-Yawir was one of more than half a dozen top government officials interviewed at the polls yesterday and today by Radio Free Iraq. Among those interviewed were Iraqi Vice President Ibrahim al-Ja'fari, Iraqi Justice Minister Malik Duhan al-Hasan, Minister of Industry and Minerals Hakim al-Hasani, Minister of Public Works and Municipal Affairs Nasrin Barwari, and other ministers.
Vice President Al-Ja'fari expressed the hope that Iraqi Sunnis will join the political process in the country and take part in the next big task following yesterday's election of drafting a state constitution. Speaking in Arabic, he called January 30 "a day of victory" for all Iraqis. Al-Jafari said he wishes "brothers from the [Sunni-dominated Iraqi] Islamic Party, and all segments of Iraqi society who are working for a bright future and who share our deep feelings for Iraq, participate in everything regarding Iraq, be it the constitution or other political affairs. Iraq is a home open to all Iraqis and we cannot exclude anyone."
In an exclusive interview today, Iraqi Minister of Justice Malik Duhan al-Hasan told Radio Free Iraq that "The electoral process is legitimate, because it is based on the Transitional Administrative Law and on resolutions of the [United Nations] Security Council. So from the legal point of view, these elections are standing on a legal base. Adding to the legitimacy of these elections is [the fact] that the Iraqi people have openly expressed their will to find a way towards drafting the constitution and to conduct it by their hands. They were able to resist all difficulties, obstacles, and threats from terrorists. On that day, they decided to go out in a mass patriotic demonstration in order to confirm to all the world that their will is stronger than any threat and that they want to live a happy life in the framework of a constitution that day set by their own hands."
Iraq's Industry Minister Hakim Al-Hasani said he is happy "the era of dictatorship has ended and the era of democracy has started," and that he is "overflowing with joy."
RFI covered the elections in a live three-hour program yesterday and election assessments and aftermath in a special, live two-hour program today. In today's election coverage, highlights included an exclusive interview in Baghdad, (Jan. 31) with Iraq's Interior minister Falah al-Naqib, who told Radio Free Iraq that stringent security measures helped reduce attacks on election day and will remain in place "one or two days longer." Al-Naquib said some traffic restrictions have been lifted but the dawn to dusk curfew and state of alert will continue at least another day. He said they are helping "the Iraqi people to overcome the state of fear they were in," and that "people are beginning to have confidence in the Iraqi police and interior ministry forces." Earlier Monday, at a press conference Al-Najib said security forces detained more than 200 suspected insurgents on Sunday, mostly near Tikrit in the Sunni region north of Baghdad.
RFI also spoke again to Iraqi chief electoral officer Adil al-Lami in Baghdad today, quizzing him on the voter turnout figure of 72 percent that was quoted widely around the world yesterday. Al-Lami said it was a rough estimate based on the observations of several polling stations about the lines at the voting booths. Al-Lami said even though the final count of voters likely will be lower, "it was still a very good turnout."
English-language transcripts of many of these interviews can be found on RFE/RL's special "Iraq Votes 2005" website. The audio of all of these interviews can also be found on the Arabic-language Radio Free Iraq website.
Radio Free Iraq, the Arabic Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) broadcasts five hours of original programming a day to Iraq, produced in Prague and the service's Baghdad Bureau and transmitted to listeners via shortwave, satellite and AM and FM broadcasts from transmitters set up by the International Broadcasting Bureau in Baghdad, Sulaymaniya and Erbil. Iraq Service programming is also available via the Internet, at http://www.rferl.org and at the service's website http://www.iraqhurr.org.