Accessibility links

Iraqi Shi'ites Give Mixed Reaction to UN Election Assessment - 2004-02-20


Shi'ite groups in Iraq appear to be coming to terms with international assessments that elections will not be possible before the U.S.-led coalition hands power to Iraqis at the end of June.

Iraqis gave mixed reactions Friday to the news that the United Nations thinks early elections are impossible, Many now seem resigned to the idea that change will take time.

Some members of Iraq's Governing Council say they still want the election, but most seem to accept that it will have to wait until at least the latter half of the year, so it can be properly organized.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Thursday in New York there is not enough time to organize an election before the June 30 handover. He made the comments shortly after the U.S. administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, said the deadline for the power transfer will not change.

Several thousand Shi'ites protested after Friday prayers in the holy city of Najaf, demanding their right to elections, but they are no longer insisting on a time frame for the poll.

Iraq's leading Shi'ite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who spearheaded the drive for early elections, told a German magazine he would not oppose a brief delay. He said in an interview to be published Saturday, any interim government should have limited powers.

Meanwhile, the United Nations is helping with plans on how to choose a transitional government acceptable to all parties in Iraq.

XS
SM
MD
LG