Annan Says Direct Elections in Iraq Not Possible Before
United Nations -- Secretary General Kofi Annan February 19 said direct
elections cannot be held in Iraq before the Coalition Provisional Authority
(CPA) transfers sovereignty to Iraqis June 30.
"The major consensus or understanding (is) that elections cannot be held before
the end of June, that the June 30 date for handover for sovereignty must be
respected and that we need to find a mechanism to create a caretaker government
and then help prepare the elections later," the secretary general told
"We hope that as we move forward we will be able to work with the Iraqis and the
coalition to find a mechanism for establishing a caretaker or interim government
until such time as elections are organized," Annan said.
After meeting with his special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who led a mission to Iraq
to discuss the election issue, Annan shared Brahimi's preliminary findings with
the so-called "group of friends of Iraq" -- 46 nations that include members of
the U.N. Security Council and Middle East countries.
Brahimi welcomed the support of the group of friends in "the re-engagement of
the United Nations in Iraq."
"The United Nations will be resuming its work to help the political process,
first of all, up to the 30th of June and then after the 30th of June when
sovereignty will be restored to Iraq," Brahimi said.
U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said that Brahimi's first report addressing the
issue of elections is still being finalized. It will then be submitted to the
Iraqi Governing Council, the CPA, and the Security Council. The CPA also has
said that under the current circumstances, direct elections are not feasible
before the June 30 transfer of sovereignty.
"Then the Iraqis will have food for thought to think through the next steps," he
"We'll have to see what follows next. The Iraqis will think through the
implications and recommendations on elections and should they want help in
establishing a ... caretaker government" the United Nations will be ready to
help, Eckhard said.
Any ideas on an interim or caretaker government "have to come from Iraqis. I
don't think you'll see (the secretary general) imposing a solution," the
Nevertheless, Eckhard said, "it is safe to say Mr. Brahimi's intention is to
remain engaged in this issue."
Eckhard said that the secretary general told the group of friends "that the
United Nations now has a better insight into and understanding of the needs,
concerns and expectations of the Iraqi people. He particularly drew attention to
the consensus that has emerged that direct national elections are the best way
to establish a fully representative and legitimate parliament and government."
"At the same time there is wide agreement that elections cannot be successfully
achieved unless carefully prepared under optimum security and political
conditions," the spokesman said. "The secretary general emphasized that we do
not want to give the impression that Iraq's fate be decided over the heads of
its people, stressing the need to engage the Iraqi people further as they chart
their own destiny."
The spokesman said that the final report of the Brahimi mission should be ready
for distribution the week of February 23.
By Judy Aita
Washington File Staff Writer
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information
Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: