Monday, December 05, 2005

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi Stoned In Iraqi Holy City

Former prime minister Iyad Allawi was attacked with stones and shoes in the Iraqi Shiite holy city of Najaf on Sunday with the secular Shiite claiming he was the target of an assassination attempt.
Iyad Allawi
"As he left (Imam) Ali's mausoleum some people gathered outside shouted 'God curse Baathists' at Mr Allawi," a police source said. The crowd then threw stones and shoes at Allawi, currently an MP for his own Iraqi National Accord (INA) party and visiting Najaf as part of his campaign for the December 15 election. His bodyguards fired in the air to disperse the crowd, the police source said, adding that Allawi had replied to the crowd with "God curse Baathists and Saddamists." Allawi, a former member of toppled president Saddam Hussein's Baath party, split with the Arab nationalist movement to go into exile in 1971, after which he plotted Saddam's overthrow with CIA backing. However, Allawi said that he had been targeted by an assassination attempt when a group of 50 to 60 people surrounded him as he prayed in the mausoleum with fellow party candidates. "They had pistols and knives," Allawi told Iraq's Al-Sharqiyah television. "They wanted to assassinate all the members of the delegation," he said, calling for those behind the alleged murder attempt to be brought to justice. Since his return to Iraq after Saddam's ouster in April 2003, Allawi has presented himself as a secular Shiite leader capable of bringing Iraq's disparate religious factions together. He is also a strong opponent of de-Baathification that has purged security forces, academic institutions and ministries of anyone associated with the former ruling party. Allawi cancelled a press conference following the attack and returned to Baghdad, the INA said. "What happened is part of the amoral campaign of which the (INA) and its followers are the object," said Najaf's INA official Abdelal al-Issawi.