China, nations seek Iraq resolution change
Four key nations proposed major changes Wednesday to the U.S.-British draft resolution on Iraq moves that would give the new government control over the Iraqi army and police and require the multinational force to consult on military actions except for self-defense.
A three-page proposal by China ¡ª which diplomats said was supported by Russia, France and Germany ¡ª would give the interim government that takes over on June 30 the right to decide whether foreign forces remain in the country and limit the multinational mandate to January 2005.
Both changes would bolster the sovereign powers of the Iraqi interim government and extend far greater authority than the resolution introduced to the U.N. Security Council on Monday by Britain and the United States.
"It should say in the resolution that the government has a final say whether
the force should be extended and on major actions to be taken by the force,"
China's U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, told reporters shortly before Security
Council discussions on the resolution.
Meanwhile, U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said that Hussain al-Shahristani, mentioned in recent days as a candidate for the post of prime minister, took himself out of the competition Wednesday.
A statement released by his spokesman at the United Nations said that there was no doubt "Mr. Shahristani could serve his country well in a number of positions in government."
"Mr. Shahrestani, however, has himself clarified that he would prefer to serve his country in other ways," the statement said.
The four-nation proposal would require the multinational force to "consult with the interim government in respect of military actions except for self-defense." These issues are not mentioned in the U.S.-British draft.
The amendment would also determine "that the interim government of Iraq shall exercise full sovereignty, in the political, economic, security, judicial and diplomatic areas, including the power to control and dispose all the natural and economic resources, sign economic cooperation agreements and contracts, and enjoy judicial independence and the power to administer prisons in Iraq."
The U.S.-British draft endorses the formation of a sovereign interim Iraqi government that will "assume the responsibility and authority" for governing the country by June 30, but doesn't spell out its powers.
It also makes no mention of the control of prisons, a highly sensitive issue following revelations of physical and sexual abuse of Iraqi detainees by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad which have sparked an international outcry.
The U.S.-British draft reaffirms authorization for the multinational force currently in Iraq to continue to maintain security and stability, under a unified command. It would review the force's mandate in 12 months or at the request of the transitional government which will be elected by early next year.
A senior State Department official noted that the administration has said that U.S. forces will withdraw from Iraq if it is asked to do so by Iraqi authorities.
The official said no one can demand the departure of the multinational force except for the Baghdad government.
The Chinese proposal would authorize the formation and deployment of a multinational force to assume "primary responsibility for security during the transitional period."
Its mandate would expire in January 2005 when elections are scheduled to be held. The Chinese plan says that any extension "should respect the views of the new Iraqi government to be elected and decided by the Security Council."