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UN Envoy Accepts Iyad Allawi as PM of Iraq's Future Interim Government - 2004-05-28

The United Nations envoy to Iraq has welcomed the choice of Iyad Allawi to be prime minister in the interim Iraqi government. Mr. Allawi is likely to address the Security Council as it considers a draft resolution on Iraq.

U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard described Iyad Allawi as the prime minister-designate Friday, hours after the U.S. appointed Iraqi Governing Council named Mr. Allawi to the post. He said Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi welcomes Mr. Allawi's appointment.

The Governing Council's action came as a surprise to officials at U-N headquarters in New York. Most had assumed that Mr. Brahimi would announce a full slate of officials to run the interim government that is due to take power June 30.

But spokesman Eckhard suggested Mr. Brahimi was in full agreement with the decision, and would continue his efforts to put together an interim government that can run the country until elections expected in January.

"He respects the decision that was taken today concerning the naming of the prime minister," he said. "He has been holding consultations throughout Iraq as you know, and he'll be discussing the results of those consultations with the prime minister-designate soon."

Mr. Eckhard acknowledged, however, that the Governing Council's announcement had caught many at U.N. headquarters off guard. "It's not how we expected it to happen, no, but the Iraqis seem to agree on this candidate, and if they do, Mr. Brahimi is ready to work with this candidate," he said.

When asked whether Mr. Brahimi had been upstaged or marginalized in the selection process, Mr. Eckhard said it has always been the envoy's position that Iraqis should make the choice themselves. He said U.N. officials are waiting to see how Iraqis react to the appointment.

"Let's see what the Iraqi street has to say about this name before we decide to write it off," he said.

Prime Minister-designate Allawi was said to be in consultation with Mr. Brahimi about further selections to the interim government. Late Friday, the U.N. envoy issued a statement saying he is perfectly comfortable with the way the process is going so far.

Security Council diplomats said they hope to hear from Mr. Allawi as they consider a U.S. draft resolution outlining the U.N. role in Iraq's transition to an elected government.

Mr. Brahimi is expected back in New York to brief Council members, but no date has been set for his return.