Mon, Jun 28, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Iraqi interim PM offers `desperate' rebels amnesty

REUTERS , LONDON

Iraq's interim prime minister yesterday offered the olive branch of amnesty to his countrymen who have resisted the US occupation out of a sense of indignation not destabilization.

Iyad Allawi said his administration would have understanding for fellow Iraqis who had risen up against the occupation out of a sense of desperation, but would draw the line at those who had joined the foreign conspiracy to destabilize the country.

"We are drawing up plans to provide amnesty to Iraqis who supported the so-called resistance without committing crimes, while isolating the hardcore elements of terrorists and criminals," he wrote in the Independent on Sunday newspaper.

"The government will make a clear distinction between those Iraqis who have acted against the occupation out of a sense of desperation, and those foreign terrorist fundamentalists and criminals whose sole objective is to kill and maim innocent people and to see Iraq fail," he added.

With a rising crescendo of murders and bombings of civilians as well as peacekeepers and officials across the country, and a threat on his own life, Allawi said national security was the top priority.

"This mandates the rapid rebuilding of Iraq's key institutions for law enforcement including the army, police, border control and intelligence services," he wrote in a barely veiled criticism of the US decision to disband the Iraqi army after ousting Saddam Hussein last year.

But he insisted that such a rebirth would exclude former members of the security services known to have blood on their hands from working for Saddam.

"The honor of decent Iraqi ex-officials, including military and police, should be restored, excluding of course those who committed heinous crimes against the nation," he wrote.

He said economic regeneration, job creation and democracy would be the guiding lights of the new Iraq.

Allawi, whose interim administration formally takes over from the US-dominated Coalition Provisional Authority on June 30 with the promise of elections in January next year, thanked the international community for its support and asked for more.

"We are placing our trust in international commitments of reconstruction aid and debt forgiveness, as well as assistance with multinational military support until Iraq is ready and able to assume full responsibility for its own security," he wrote.

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