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Brahimi: Iraqis 'Overwhelmingly' Want UN Help

United Nations, 19 March 2004 (RFE/RL) -- A top UN official says there is great support in Iraq for the United Nations to help set up an interim government and prepare for elections.

A chief adviser to the UN secretary-general, Lakhdar Brahimi, told reporters today that by all indications, Iraqis are "overwhelmingly" demanding a UN role.

"The majority of the people of Iraq, within and outside of the Governing Council, are really demanding and pressing the United Nations to come back," he said.

Brahimi reported after a visit to Iraq last month that the country would need at least eight months before it could hold proper elections. Officials of the U.S.-led coalition running Iraq want the UN to help Iraqis reach a consensus on transitional governing structures before the 30 June handover of power.

Some members of the Iraqi Governing Council and Shi'ite leaders have said this month they do not support a lead UN role. But the Governing Council this week formally invited the UN to help shape the political process. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is to announce shortly when UN experts will return.