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UN, Iraqi Officials Say Elections Will Not Be Possible Before June - 2004-02-13

U.N. and Iraqi officials said Friday that direct elections in Iraq before the U.S. hands over sovereignty in June will not be possible. A U.N. team is in Iraq right now to assess the feasibility of elections.

There is not enough time to organize an election in Iraq before the U.S.-led coalition hands over power to Iraqis at the end of June, according to a U.N. team and members of the current Iraqi governing council.

U.N. Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi said he agrees with Iraq's top Shi'ite that the best way to select a government is through general elections, but he did not say when the elections should take place.

Mr. Brahimi also raised doubt about the U.S. plan to select the transitional government through regional caucus meetings.

The U.N. fact finding team in Iraq includes election and security experts. Traveling under heavy guard, this is the first U.N. mission to operate in Iraq since a car bomb destroyed its headquarters in Baghdad last August, prompting the world body to withdraw from the country.

Security is widely believed to be the biggest obstacle to an election right now. Two car bombs in Iraq this week during the stay of the U.N. team killed over one hundred people and the ongoing insurgency shows no signs of abating.