Riz Khan – Iraq: Reopening sectarian wounds?

Al Jazeera English’s Riz Khan: Now, of course, in 2005 when the Sunni community generally boycotted the elections taking place then, there was violence on the street. And I wonder, because there’s, you know, if there’s a sense of being sidelined and excluded and being left out of any kind of voice in Iraqi politics? Whether there’s a chance of people taking to the streets again this time? What do you expect?

Dr. Saleh al-Mutlaq, a leading Sunni Iraqi politician: Well, it is really a very dangerous and worrying situation because although we told people when we heard this news about excluding us from the election, we told them they should not worry about this. They should go to the election. They should vote. Whether we are in or we are out and we will struggle against dictatorship, against the oppressing government whether we are inside the political process or outside the political process, whether we are inside the election process or outside the election process.

But we could not convince people. People, now, are depressed, pessimistic about what’s going on. They say to us, they still saying, that if you are in the political process and you are a leader in this process that you cannot protect yourself. So how could we protect ourself when we go to the election? So they cannot guarantee their lives and their family lives if they go to the election. Plus they do not guarantee that the results will not be fixed from now.

If the IHEC [Iraq’s Accountability and Justice Commission], the, I mean, the election committee and the government is capable of cheating the people and fixing the situation as they want in a very obvious way. So aren’t they able to cheat the people and to make the fraud in the coming election? These are the arguments the people argue and most of the people, we talk to them, they said we will not go to the election. And this is very dangerous because then they will lose hope. And if they lose hope, then they will go to the violence again.

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