US floats UN draft on Iraq
The United States on Monday asked for U.N. endorsement of a hand-over of power to an interim Iraqi government but proposed U.S. forces there be allowed to "take all measures" to keep order and set no date for them to leave.
The draft emerged several hours before U.S. President Bush's televised speech on Monday mapping out his plans for Iraq, where attacks on occupying forces have thrown into doubt prospects for a peaceful transfer to democratic rule.
As part of the transition process, U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, now in Baghdad, is due to name a president, a prime minister, two vice presidents and 26 ministers soon. They would stay in office until elections for a national assembly, expected to be held by January 2005.
No vote is expected until Brahimi reports to the council. But most council members expect the measure to be adopted, perhaps with some amendments. "No one is in a position to vote against," said one envoy.
The definition of sovereignty, particularly on the role of foreign troops, is a contentious issue, with the Bush administration attempting to assure U.N. members they would not be asked to approve an occupation under another name.
CRITICISM FROM FRANCE
The text endorses a U.S.-led multinational force, which would have "authority to take all necessary measure to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability."
But the draft has run into criticism from France, Germany and others, who opposed the Iraqi invasion last year. It does not give a definite timetable for the foreign force to leave but calls for a review after a year. An elected Iraqi government, after January, can also call for such a review.
Deputy U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham acknowledged there was no authority for Iraq to ask foreign troops to leave.
But, quoting earlier remarks from Secretary of State Colin Powell, he said, "The United States has said we will leave if there is a request by the Iraqi government to leave."
8,000 IRAQI PRISONERS
The resolution is silent on several points -- whether the Iraqi military can refuse to go into battle and on the current interim constitution, although U.S. officials say it stands until a new constitution is crafted.
A senior U.S. official said the resolution should not dictate too many details to a future Iraqi government and that military arrangements would be worked out in a separate letter between the U.S. command and the Iraqis.
The resolution defines a "key" role for the United Nations in the political sphere but allows Secretary-General Kofi Annan to decide whether to return U.N. staff to Iraq, depending on security. The United Nations has no permanent foreign staff in Iraq since last October, two months after its offices in Baghdad were bombed, leaving 23 dead.
On oil, the draft resolution says Iraq would have control over its oil revenues. But it would keep in place an international advisory board, which audits accounts, to assure investors and donors that their money was being spent free of corruption.