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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 January, 2005, 13:26 GMT
Iraq 'will not be Shia-run state'
By Tim Weber
BBC News website business editor in Davos

Iraqi national security adviser Mouwaffaq al-Rubaie in Davos
Rabaie said religion would have "an advisory role"
Iraq will not have a Shia-dominated government after Sunday's elections, Iraq's national security adviser Mouwaffaq al-Rubaie has said.

Mr Rubaie said the transitional government would be a broad coalition, with "meaningful" Sunni representation.

He said Iraq would not be a theocracy, because the constitution, yet to be drafted, would reflect the country's many religious and ethnic groups.

Mr Rubaie was speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Also in Davos, US Senator John McCain said "some pretty horrific things" might happen on Sunday, but promised the US would "stay the course".

"The insurgents know that if we can pull off the election, then their days are numbered," he said.

'No Shia state'

Mr Rubaie, who is expected to be a prominent member of the next government, said if Sunnis were "not well represented... we have a mechanism to make up for this deficiency".

He also assured Sunnis that "we have no intention to have a religious state in Iraq, to have a Shia state in Iraq".

"Religion is going to have a strong role, but it is going to be an advisory role, not a supervisory role," he said.

Mr Rubaie is a close adviser of interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, and is known to meet Iraq's most senior Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, at least once a week.

Ayatollah Sistani is "one of the most ardent democrats that I have ever met", Mr Rubaie said.

An Iraqi polling station
Sunday's election is the country's first free poll in decades

"He has an obsession about democracy, minority rights, and women's rights. I have met him regularly since April 2003 and he has never shifted his stance," he added.

Speaking at a Davos debate on Iraq's future, Mr Rubaie said the government elected on Sunday would not ask the multinational forces to leave before the end of the year.

The Iraqi security forces were not ready in "shape or form" to ensure internal security or protect the country's borders.

Therefore Iraq would "need the multinational forces to support and back up the Iraqi forces over the next several months or even a couple of years".

"The prospect of withdrawal of multinational forces now would be the trigger of civil war, there is no doubt in my mind," Mr Rubaie warned.

Democracy 'disease'

Senator John McCain acknowledged that the United States had made mistakes in Iraq which had "cost the lives of young men and women".

But "the consequences of failure in Iraq are so profound that I don't want to contemplate them", he added.

We have no ambitions for Iraq
Kamal Kharrazi
Iranian foreign minister

The elections would be the beginning of a process that would see Iraq emerge as a democratic state and stop of return to "boys of eight or nine years being imprisoned, mass graves and the use of weapons of mass of destruction".

Mr Rubaie called democracy a "catching disease", and predicted that a democratic Iraq would have a profound impact on the whole Middle East.

Participating in the debate, Iran's foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi, promised that his country would play a positive role.

He denied recent allegations by Iraq's defence minister that Iran had tried to influence the elections and helped insurgent groups.

He called for an independent Iraq, without foreign troops, strong enough to maintain its territorial integrity and with protection for the rights of all its minorities.

"We have no ambitions for Iraq," Mr Kharrazi said.

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