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UN: Annan Says 'Credible' Political Transition In Iraq Can Assure Stability

  • Robert McMahon

United Nations, 17 December 2003 (RFE/RL) -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says now that Saddam Hussein is captured, the best hope of providing stability in Iraq is a quick, "credible and inclusive" transition of power.

Annan told the UN Security Council today that the transfer of power from the U.S.-led coalition to a broader-based provisional Iraqi government is urgently needed.

"The task of restoring the effective exercise of sovereignty to Iraqis, in the form of a provisional government, is urgent. While there may not be time to organize free, fair, and credible elections for this purpose, it is essential that the process leading to the formation of a provisional government is fully inclusive and transparent," Annan said.

Annan also urged the council to give the UN a clearly defined political role in Iraq to help it decide whether to return to the country. The United States supports a "vital" UN role in Iraq but has described mainly humanitarian tasks and a limited political role for the organization.

Annan has begun to revive the UN mission for Iraq, which was devastated by the 19 August terrorist bombing attack in Baghdad. The UN is basing the mission in Cyprus until security conditions permit a return of international staff to Iraq. "In taking the difficult decisions that lie ahead, I need to weigh the degree of risk that the United Nations is being asked to accept against the substance of the role we are being asked to fulfill," he said.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari urged the United Nations to return its international experts to Iraq, saying its help is needed on many levels.

In particular, Zebari said, Iraq needs the UN's help in advancing the electoral and political process which is due to get under way next year with a series of regional caucuses to elect transitional leaders.

"We understand the devastating losses the UN suffered on 19 August but as the UN has offered reassurances by its presence in so many dangerous and difficult situations we are ready and willing to help provide whatever security is required to see it return to Iraq," Zebari said.

Zebari repeatedly urged the Security Council to set aside its differences over the war in Iraq and unify to help the country build a stable democracy. Zebari said the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council is the most representative and democratic governing body in the Middle East and, as such, merited extra attention from the Security Council for support in nation building.

The Security Council went into closed session after hearing from Annan and Zebari. It is discussing the timetable presented by the Iraqi Council, which calls for an Iraqi provisional government to take over power from the U.S.-led authority in June.
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