CPA Requests U.N. Team to See If Elections Can Move Forward
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 22, 2004 The Coalition Provisional Authority has asked the United Nations to send a team of advisors to take a look at the viability of direct elections in Iraq.
The request comes just months before the June 30 handover of sovereignty in the country, a timetable set by a Nov. 15 agreement and strongly supported by President Bush.
Dan Senor, the CPA's senior spokesperson, said today in a briefing from Baghdad that CPA officials met with the U.N. Security Council and U.N. Secretary- General Kofi Annan last week to request the deployment a technical team to Iraq.
"We've asked the U.N. to deploy a team and make a recommendation if elections - - direct elections -- are possible in the near future," Senor told reporters. He said the CPA wants the team to tell the coalition "if (elections) are possible, how they think we should proceed; if they're not possible, what's the best alternative; and then finally to address the U.N.'s role going forward in Iraq."
Senor said Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III, CPA administrator, returned to Baghdad today after meetings in New York and Washington.
In New York, Bremer met with Dr. Adnan Pachachi, the current president of the Iraqi Governing Council, regarding the transition to Iraqi sovereignty, and the possible role of the United Nations in Iraq. In Washington, Bremer met with President Bush and National Security Council officials on the implementation of the Nov. 15 political agreement that set a deadline for direct elections by the June 30.
He said during a meeting with the president and an Iraqi Governing Council delegation Monday in the Oval Office, the president referenced the June 30 deadline.
Senor also pointed out that the June 30 deadline for handover of sovereignty was made clear in the president's State of the Union address Jan. 20, when he specifically referred to the end of June as the timeframe for the handover of sovereignty in Iraq.
Senor said while the June 30 deadline still is the primary focus for handover of sovereignty, and the political process laid out in the Nov. 15 agreement is the coalition's primary model, "We will consider clarifications -- but they are only that, clarifications."
Sending a U.N. team to assess the possibility of elections would address concerns that direct elections be fair and legitimate, Senor said, given the short time period remaining and Iraq's lack of any electoral history or infrastructure.
Senor said that if the U.N. team determines that elections cannot move forward, the coalition would like the team to recommend an alternative.
The coalition spokesman noted the importance that the CPA places on keeping the deadline for the handover of sovereignty in the country.
"It is important to have a date to serve as a deadline, and it's also a date we agreed upon with the governing council," he said. "And if the agreement is to be respected, and if the agreement is to stand strong and independently, it is important that we keep to it. And so we and the governing council have agreed to work and focus on handing over sovereignty," he said.
He added that the governing council and Iraqi political leaders have made it clear they are ready for more authority and power, not less.
"They are ready for us to accelerate every single day the pace at which we are handing over authority to the Iraqi people," Senor said. "And we think it is very important not only to meet the request to continually hand over authority to the Iraqi people, but also to stick to a deadline that we agreed upon with the Iraqi leadership."
Senor said that during last week's meeting, the secretary-general "certainly understood, or communicated that he understood, the urgency of a decision to send a U.N. team to Iraq." He said that although Annan has not made a decision, he indicated that he would move quickly.