Early poll in Iraq not feasible, says Annan
THE UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, announced yesterday it was not feasible to hold elections in Iraq before 30 June, when the United States hands over power to Iraqis.
Endorsing coalition claims that a poll could not be organised in time, Mr Annan added that the date Washington had fixed for a transfer of sovereignty "must be respected".
The White House asked the United Nations to come up with proposals for Iraq’s political future after Shiite leaders rebelled against the original US plans and called for early direct elections.
Mr Annan’s announcement came hours after a roadside bomb killed two US soldiers and an Iraqi west of Baghdad in the latest of a series of attacks that have made February the bloodiest month in Iraq since the war.
After a meeting with 46 ambassadors, he said he was not yet able to propose who should form a caretaker government on 30 June to run Iraq until elections are held.Mr Annan spoke briefly to reporters between meetings with his senior envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, who had just returned from a series of meetings in Iraq and was making recommendations to the secretary general.
Choosing a caretaker government will be sensitive. Iraq’s majority Shiites, who have been pressing for early direct elections, will make strong demands. Minority Sunnis, whose privileges disappeared when Saddam Hussein was toppled in April, fear being marginalised. The Kurds are pushing for autonomy and want a federal state.
Iraqis are eager to choose their own government to replace the US-appointed Governing Council, which was handpicked by the Americans.
Iraq’s US administrator, Paul Bremer, said at a news conference in Baghdad that dozens of proposals on Iraq’s interim government were under discussion but that the handover date would not change.
"There are literally dozens of ways to carry out this very complicated task," Mr Bremer said.
The original US proposal of caucuses in 18 provinces has been discredited by Iraqis and is no longer being pushed by Washington, diplomats at the UN said.
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