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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 November, 2004, 18:03 GMT
Rebels 'will not wreck Iraq poll'
Barham Saleh
Barham Saleh: "Most Iraqis want elections"
The interim deputy prime minister of Iraq has said that postponing the forthcoming Iraqi elections would be giving in to terrorism.

Barham Saleh told the BBC that an "unholy alliance" was attempting to derail the political process in Iraq.

This consisted of former regime loyalists, domestic extremists and international terrorists, he said.

Iraq's electoral commission has ruled that the country's elections will go ahead as planned on 30 January.

In the latest violence on Sunday, a car bomb killed six people and injured five others in Samarra, 100km (60 miles) north of Baghdad.

In the capital itself, two American soldiers were injured in an attack on their convoy.

Delay 'encourages' violence

Speaking on the Breakfast with Frost programme, Mr Saleh condemned the insurgency.

"They do not want to see a functioning democracy right at the heart of the Islamic world," he said. "We will not let them succeed."

A number of groups, representing mostly Sunni Muslims, Kurds and secular Iraqis, had asked for a six-month delay to the elections because of violence in some parts of the country, including the northern city of Mosul, and Falluja in the west.

Mr Saleh admitted that holding elections in January against a backdrop of continuing insurgent attacks would be difficult.

But he added: "Most Iraqis, including those in Falluja and Mosul, according to opinion polls, want to take part in elections."

His comments were endorsed by the former British envoy to Baghdad, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who also appeared on the programme.

"If you allow violence to dictate the timing of the election, that will encourage violence," said Sir Jeremy. "There will be violence whenever you hold them."

He added that it was vitally important that the Sunni Arab population of Iraq - a minority who received favourable treatment under the former regime - be "kept on board" during the elections.

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