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Iraq Says UN Not Helping Enough For January Elections

21 October 2004 -- Iraq's foreign minister today complained that the United Nations isn't helping enough with preparations for Iraq's January 2005 elections.

Speaking in Baghdad, Foreign Minister Hoshyar al-Zebari said the UN has not sent enough election experts to help prepare for the ballot.

Al-Zebari described the lack of help as "unfortunate" and "not up to [Iraq's] expectations," but blamed the security situation in Iraq as the main reason for the UN's low presence in the country.

The UN pulled its international staff from Iraq after a bomb attack on its Baghdad headquarters last year killed some 22 people including UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Since then, the UN allowed a maximum of 35 non-Iraqi staffers to return to Iraq. Meanwhile, UN workers are training Iraqis outside Iraq, who are supposed to then return home and teach other Iraqis how to prepare the elections.