Insurgents to be given amnesty by Allawi

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The Independent Online

Iraq's new government is expected to announce an amnesty this week for insurgents in an attempt to cut the brutal violence sweeping the country.

Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's plans may extend to pardoning rebels who killed Allied troops. But the scheme has run into strong criticism from senior American officials.

Mr Allawi wants to draw a line under the US-led occupation and hopes to entice followers of Muqtada Sadr, the Shia cleric who led an anti-American uprising in April, into laying down their weapons.

"If he [a fighter] was in opposition against the Americans, that will be justified because it was an occupation force," Georges Sada, Mr Allawi's spokesman, said on Saturday. "We will give them freedom."

Mr Allawi's government is expected to make a number of security-related policy announcements in the coming days, including the resurrection of Iraq's death penalty and an emergency law that sets curfews in Iraq's trouble spots, Mr Sada said.

Middle east analysts said some type of amnesty is needed to coax Iraqi nationalist guerrillas to the government's side, while separating them from fighters who use terrorist-style bombings.

Sadr has indicated his militia would disarm if its members were offered amnesty.