Iyad Allawi's bid to become Iraq's Prime Minister again has received an endorsement from an unexpected source: the Ba'ath Party. A spokesman for the exiled leadership of Saddam Hussein's old party told TIME that Allawi "is the best person at this time to be given the task of ruling Iraq." He said he hoped that Allawi would pave the way for the Ba'ath Party to "return to the political life of Iraq, where we rightfully belong."
The spokesman, known only as Abu Hala, said the Ba'ath leadership under Saddam's deputy, Izzat al-Douri, were "more than willing to work with Allawi, because we see him as a nationalist and Iraqi patriot, and not a sectarian figure." He said the party didn't agree with all of Allawi's policies when he headed a transitional Iraqi government in 2004, but "we have no doubt that he would represent the interests of Iraq, not of Shi'ites or Sunnis or any other group."
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