BAGHDAD, NOV. 11, 2008 ( An Iraqi archbishop is hoping the new U.S. president will urge the war-torn country to respect minority rights.

Archbishop Jean Sleiman of Baghdad told the charity group Aid to the Church in Need that it is important for the United States and President-elect Barack Obama to "help protect minority rights in Iraq. Pressure needs to be put on the government in Iraq to respect the needs not only of Christians, but of all minorities."

The prelate's comments came in the wake of more allegations that there was political involvement in the mass exodus of Christians from Mosul last month. Meanwhile, Iraqi Parliament announced Nov. 3 that only six seats will be allocated for minority groups in the provincial elections scheduled for January. Three of those seats -- out of a total of more than 400 -- are for Christians.

"I hope that the United States will encourage Iraq to improve and become a country where the rule of law is upheld, where there is equality and where human rights are at the heart of the Constitution," Archbishop Sleiman said.

The prelate stated that Christians need more protection, noting that some 1,500 of the 15,000 who fled Mosul have returned, despite fears of ongoing threats and intimidation.

"The political parties here are not concerned about the rights of minorities," he affirmed. "They think more about their own tactics and strategies."

His comments coincide with a statement last month from Iraqi bishops who said that the "tragic events in Mosul" were "part of a political plan" aimed at the "division and fragmentation of the country."

The archbishop went on to say that in Iraq few people -- including Christians -- expect significant change under Obama.

He said: "I do not detect a real enthusiasm for Obama. People here think that a change in president will not bring about a change in strategy -- maybe in style.

"One Arabic online newspaper ran an article with a headline: 'Bush was not a savage and Obama will not be an angel.' I think this means the journal believes Bush was not as bad as some say and Obama will not be as good as people think."

"People don't know quite what to think of Obama. His charismatic figure and his victory impressed everybody. But most people will be watching and waiting to see how the situation develops."