Anti-Occupation Forces Reject National Congress
A National Congress of 1,000 notables will be held for 3 days later in July. It will elect an advisory body of 100, which will have a veto power over some decisions of Prime Minister Allawi. This weak, Duma-like council was proposed by UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi as a means of involving a wide spectrum of the Iraqi political forces in the transitional government.
Ash-Sharq al-Awsat reports that some significant political figures and forces have announced that they will boycott the congress, holding that it is an institution of the on-going Occupation. They say they will run for office when Iraq is truly independent. Among the rejectionists are Muqtada al-Sadr and many members of his movement, which is important in East Baghdad’s slums. Another Shiite cleric, Muhammad al-Khalisi, has also refused to be involved. Likewise Jawad al-Sari, leader of the Arab National Party, and the prominent political scientist at Baghdad University, Wamidh Nadhmi.
On the other hand, Fuad Masoum, who is organizing the congress, says that former Baath Party members who do not have blood on their hands will be welcome to participate. He also complained to the Saudi-backed London daily that many Iraqis had wanted to hold the national congress in May, but that plan had been vetoed by Paul Bremer. Masum counts that move as a major mistake.