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« on: March 21, 2005, 09:49:16 pm »

Iraq's Jaafari aims for Sharia rule
From correspondents in Berlin
March 20, 2005
From: Agence France-Presse
IRAQ'S frontrunning Shiite candidate for prime minister, Ibrahim Jaafari, said in an interview he aimed to introduce sharia Islamic law and federalism and confirmed Saddam Hussein would be judged by the end of the year.
"It's understandable in a country where the majority of people are Muslim," Mr Jaafari said of the Sharia law, in an interview conducted in Baghdad due to appear in Tuesday's edition of German magazine Der Spiegel.

"Iraq should become a Muslim country but without falling under the influence of Iran or Saudi Arabia," he said.

"Everyone will have the same rights, even members of the many minor religious communities," he said, explaining there would be multiple forms of jurisprudence.

He also said women would be under no legal obligation to wear a veil.

"They will make their own decisions," the Shiite candidate said.

According to results of a poll released yesterday, most Iraqis are deeply attached to their Islamic identity but do not want a strict application of sharia law, as in neighbouring Saudi Arabia or Iran.

About 48 per cent of those interviewed agreed that "religion has a special role to play in the government", while 46 per cent supported a separation of state and mosque.

The poll was based on some 2000 interviews covering 15 of 18 provinces by an Iraqi firm employed by the right-wing US International Republican Institute.

Mr Jaafari also had calming words for the Kurdish community, mainly based in the country's north.

"I'm for a federal Iraqi state," he explained.

Mr Jaafari is head of the Islamic party Dawa, which is part of a Shiite alliance holding a majority of 146 from a possible 275 seats from the general election.

The alliance is in talks with Kurds, whose two main parties won 75 seats, over the formation of an executive within the next two weeks.

Mr Jaafari said the Shiite alliance would do everything to encourage the Sunni community to work with them on a new constitution.

Another major question facing Iraq is the fate of the former dictator.

"The Saddam Hussein case will be closed before year's end," he confirmed.

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