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Maliki makes reconciliation call

Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki - January 2009
Maliki's reconciliation plans have been criticised as self-promoting

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has urged the nation to forgive those who worked with the government of former President Saddam Hussein.

He was speaking in the capital, Baghdad, at a reconciliation conference with an Iraqi Shia tribe.

Mr Maliki said such conferences were the cornerstone of rebuilding Iraq and returning it to the rule of law.

A key part of his reconciliation plan is to create tribal councils that will have a big say in local government.

The initiative has been opposed by many Iraqi politicians, who say it is aimed at boosting Mr Maliki's chances in next year's parliamentary elections.

We will reconcile with them, but on the condition they come back to us and turn the page on that dark part of Iraq's history… What happened, happened
Nouri Maliki

"We must reconcile with those who committed mistakes, who were obliged in that difficult era to side with the past regime. Today they are again sons of Iraq," Mr Maliki said, the Reuters news agency reported.

"We will reconcile with them, but on the condition they come back to us and turn the page on that dark part of Iraq's history… What happened, happened."

The US military and Iraqi government have pursued efforts at political reconciliation focussing on bring Sunni Arab Iraqis into the political process and promoting the Awakening Councils - Sunni insurgents who allied themselves to the US and Iraqi militaries.

Mainstream Sunni political groups participated widely in January's provincial elections in which Maliki and his Shia political allies did very well.

Violence in Iraq has fallen sharply in the last 18 months, though bombings and attacks remain a daily occurrence.



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