United Nations, 12 February 2004 (RFE/RL) -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says there is a "consensus emerging" among Iraqis that direct national elections are the best way to establish a transitional government.
Annan issued a statement saying there is also wide agreement that elections must be carefully prepared, and that they must be organized in proper conditions to best reflect the wishes of the Iraqi electorate.
The statement followed comments in Iraq today by Annan's envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, that the UN supports Iraq's top Shi'a cleric in his demand for elections.
Annan's spokesman, Fred Eckhard, said the timing of such polls remains a major unresolved issue. Brahimi will return to UN headquarters next week to present recommendations to Annan.
The United States has said direct elections are unrealistic ahead of the 30 June transfer-of-power date set by the U.S.-led Iraqi Governing Council. Eckhard said Annan has not spoken with U.S. officials today on the issue of elections.