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Annan: UN Team May Go To Iraq In Few Days

Brussels, 30 January 2004 (RFE/RL) -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said a United Nations team due to study the feasibility of holding elections in Iraq may travel to Baghdad within several days.

On 27 January, Annan said he is willing to send a team to Iraq to assess whether elections can be held in five months if he can be convinced there is adequate security for such a mission.

Today, Annan told reporters in Brussels the coalition has promised to do "its utmost" to protect the team and that the team, therefore "should be able to travel" to Iraq in the next few days.

Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has demanded a full-scale direct election for the country's leaders. But U.S. officials and most members of the Iraqi Governing Council want to hand over power on 30 June to a transitional Iraqi government selected on a caucus-based system, saying there is not enough time to organize a poll.