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UN Team In Iraq To Assess Possibility Of Elections

Baghdad, 7 February 2004 (RFE/RL) -- A UN delegation is in Baghdad today to assess whether elections can be held in Iraq in less than five months.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan sent the team at the request of Iraqi and U.S. leaders, who are at an impasse over a planned transfer of power to an Iraqi government on 30 June. Some Iraqis are calling for elections, but U.S. officials say elections cannot be organized in that time frame.

Mohsen Abd al-Hamid, the current head of Iraq's Governing Council, today welcomed the UN delegation, but said Iraq is not bound by the delegation's conclusions.

"We are glad the United Nations have replied, but we are not bound by the conclusions that they will reach, because we always look at it as a matter of finding agreement amongst ourselves and for the good of Iraq. I hope that the results they achieve will correspond to what we agree because the transfer of sovereignty, and independence, on time is a matter that concerns everyone."

Neither the composition of the UN delegation nor its schedule has been released for security reasons.