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UN's Transition Plan For Iraq Criticized

United Nations, 7 May 2004 (RFE/RL) -- As UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi begins final negotiations on an interim Iraqi government, he's facing renewed opposition from Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi.

Entifadh Qanbar, spokesman for Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, told journalists that neither Brahimi nor the UN have the credibility to lead the transition. He also said Brahimi, a Sunni Muslim Algerian, was too close to ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.

"To have somebody from outside the country who is an Arab nationalist who had some great support to Saddam in the past, to come and rule the political process in Iraq, is not acceptable," Qanbar said.

Qanbar repeated the charges of some Governing Council members that Brahimi's plan for a technocrat government before elections in January violates the country's transitional administrative law.

He acknolwedged that Governing Council members want to be part of the interim governing process, something Brahimi has advised against.

Qanbar declined to say whether his group would boycott a caretaker government shaped by Brahimi. But he warned that Iraqis do not have a positive impression of the United Nations following its years of heading the maligned humanitarian program.

" A lot of Iraqis could not understand how could the same organization who mismanaged Iraq during the oil-for-food program is going to be given the right to rule the Iraqi process, the poilitical process, he said."

But another top Iraqi figure, Adnan Pachachi, has defended Brahimi, saying he serves an important role in helping to choose an interim government. Pachachi told Reuters in an interview late on 6 May that Brahimi's presence has been requested by the Governing Council.

"He has never claimed that he is going to have the last word on the selection of the interim government, but he will certainly help us to find the best ways and means to select this government," Pachachi said.

Brahimi returned to Iraq this week to continue consultations with Iraqis. He has said an interim government including a president, two vice presidents, and a prime minister should be chosen by the end of this month to prepare for the 30 June transfer of sovereignty from the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority.