Global Policy Forum

Iraq's Government Extends State of Emergency

January 6, 2005

Iraq's interim government said on Thursday that it will extend the state of emergency for another month due to the escalating violence in the country. Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's office said in a statement that the state of emergency, announced two months ago, will continue across Iraq expect for the northern Kurdish-run areas. "As the gangs of terrorists continue their hostile activities to prevent the formation of a government and stop the peaceful participation of Iraqis in the political process, the Council of Ministers has agreed to extend emergency laws excluding the Kurdistan region for 30 days," the statement said.

Rebels have intensified their attacks against Iraqi National Guardsmen and U.S. occupation forces ahead of the national elections, planned for January 30. The emergency law allows the government to impose nighttime curfews, close borders and airports, launch military operations whenever it deems necessary and grants it extra powers to arrest people without warrants.

Allawi confirmed that the state of emergency "is renewed," adding that "We will be having the elections. We expect some escalation (of attacks) here and there. This is a precaution to protect the Iraqi people as well as the elections and the process of the elections." The state of emergency was first announced by the government on Nov. 7, for two months. Shortly after it was declared, U.S. forces and Iraqi soldiers launched a major offensive in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, west of Baghdad.

Violence has escalated in Iraq recently and has hampered the preparations for the elections in many areas. Also may Sunni political groups have boycotted the polls, saying that unrest will prevent Sunni Arabs from casting their ballots. The U.S. army and the Iraqi government say that rebels will step up their attacks ahead of the election, but they insist that it must be held as scheduled. But President Ghazi al-Yawar openly questioned whether a fair voting process could be held amid the escalating violence.

And an official in the U.S. close to the Iraqi government said on condition of anonymity that Allawi shares Yawar's concerns. "(They) won't say so publicly because they're afraid of embarrassing (President George W.) Bush," the source said.



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