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Malaysian leader urges Iraqis to embark on new era of unity

The Associated Press

Saturday, December 30, 2006 

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has urged Iraqis to embark on a new era of reconciliation following the execution of their former president, Saddam Hussein.

"I hope that the present Iraqi government will be guided by the principles of justice and fairness in matters of governance, ensuring that all Iraqis are treated equally and with dignity," Abdullah said in a statement released Saturday night by the national news agency Bernama.

Abdullah, who chairs the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference, the world's largest Islamic political grouping, said Saddam's execution on Saturday must not result in a prolonging of sectarian violence "that has prevented any meaningful nation building or reconstruction from taking place."

He said Iraqis should be allowed to determine for themselves how to bring back peace and stability to their country, and urged the international community to help them in all appropriate ways.

Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar told Bernama that Malaysia respected the right of the Iraqi government and people to determine Saddam's fate.

But he warned that the execution may result in more violence as well as hatred against the West, which some Iraqis regard as responsible for ordering the hanging.

Syed Hamid said many in the international community were critical of the trial proceedings against Saddam for his role in the killings of 148 Shiite Muslims from a town where assassins tried to kill him in 1982.

"It appeared as though there was intervention from the government in the judicial process, as though a decision had been made before the verdict was passed," he said.

Foreign Ministry officials could not be reached Sunday for comment.

Malaysia opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq, but maintains good ties with Washington.

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