Home>News Center>World

No elections expected in Iraq before US rule ends
Updated: 2004-02-13 15:23

U.N. officials have virtually ruled out elections in Iraq before a transfer of power on June 30 but might be able to schedule them before the end of the year, diplomats said on Friday.

But they said a caucus system proposed by the United States, at least in the form Washington had wanted, was no longer on the table. However, the envoys believed some transfer of power would take place on June 30, and not be delayed until after elections.

Lakhdar Brahimi, a senior adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, is in Iraq this week to resolve a dispute over how a provisional government would be formed in Baghdad before the U.S. led occupation relinquishes power to Iraqis.

The White House, after scorning the world body for months, requested Annan to intervene when an influential Shi'ite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, insisted on direct elections rather than caucuses for members of a national assembly that would choose an interim government.

Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister, met Sistani on Thursday. He goes to Kuwait for a regional meeting on Saturday. Annan expects to give his recommendations on the election process before the end of the month.

"We are in agreement with the Sayyid (Sistani) that these elections should be well prepared and should take place in the best possible conditions so that it would bring the results which the Sayyid wants, the Iraqi people want and the United Nations wants," Brahimi told reporters.

In New York, Annan's spokesman, Fred Eckhard, said the secretary-general understood there was "a consensus emerging" for direct elections as a result of talks Brahimi had with a variety of Iraqi leaders.

But Annan made clear requirements for elections would take time and Sistani understood this.


"There is wide agreement that elections must be carefully prepared, and that they must be organized in technical, security and political conditions that give the best chance of producing a result that reflects the wishes of the Iraqi electorate," Eckhard said.

The U.S. plan calls for a series of complicated caucuses to select a legislature and then an interim government before June 30. After that, the goal was to write a constitution and hold elections by the end of 2005 for a permanent government.

"Everyone expects elections by 2005," Eckhard said.

"The question is what can be done before June 30 and if it can't be elections what other way can you find to establish a legitimate government," he said.

The diplomats said some transfer of power would take place on June 30 but that elections could not be held before then. "They might possibly be able to do it by the end of the year but this is not certain," said one U.N. envoy.

Alternatives to the caucus system, however, have not yet been agreed upon. Among them are expanding the current U.S.-selected Iraqi Governing Council or forming another body made up of a sort of council of elders.

Another proposal has been for the United Nations to administer Iraq until elections for a permanent government could be held, a suggestion U.N. officials would be reluctant to accept, mainly for security reasons.

Brahimi's electoral team is the first U.N. international presence in Iraq since Annan pulled out foreign staff in late October after two bombing attacks against U.N. offices in Baghdad. The first on Aug 19. killed 22 people, including the head of mission, Brazilian Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Despite U.S. urging, Brahimi, who just returned from a two-year stint of nation-building in Afghanistan, has refused to replace Vieira de Mello as the permanent U.N. envoy.

  Today's Top News     Top World News

US 7th Fleet warship to visit China this month



Push to lift arms embargo on right track



Powell: US sees no need for Taiwan referendum



Vice-premier lauds US halt of farm subsidies



Snakeheads expose cruelsome truth



Luxurious Valentine offer spurs criticism


  No elections expected in Iraq before US rule ends
  UN finds secret Iran nuclear documents
  Iraq Shi'ites say late polls will lead to violence
  US soldier charged in al Qaeda sting
  Scientists claim they've cloned human embryos
  US: San Francisco officials marry gay couples
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
Iraq Shi'ites say late polls will lead to violence
Two US soldiers killed by roadside bomb in Baghdad
China wins first post-war contract in Iraq
US opens some Iraq contracts to all countries
MoveOn and WWW set up campaign to censure Bush
Second Iraq bombing pushes deaths to 100
  News Talk  
  The evil root of all instability in the world today