Iraq resolution gets unanimous approval at UN security Council
The U.N. Security Council passed Tuesday night a resolution endorsing the handover of power to Iraq's new government by the end of this month. US President Bush hailed the move, saying it will set the stage for democracy in Iraq and be a "catalyst for change" in the Middle East.
The unanimous 15-0 vote came after a last-minute compromise allowed France and Germany to drop their objections to the American-British resolution.
The compromise gives new Iraqi leaders control over the activities of their own security forces and a say on "sensitive offensive operations" by the U.S.-led occupation force. But it doesn't grant the Iraqis a veto over major U.S.-led military operations as France and Germany demanded.
France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said, however, that "France cannot imagine that the multinational force would go against the opinion of Iraq's sovereign government."
According to The AP, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the vote reflects the council's willingness to come together to help the Iraqi people "take charge of their own political destiny."
"Obviously we are not there yet. Free and fair elections ... will be a historic milestone," he was quoted as saying.
The resolution spells out the powers and the limitations of the new interim Iraqi government that will assume power on June 30. It authorizes the occupation force to stay in Iraq to help ensure security but gives the Iraqi government the right to ask the force to leave at any time.
In the resolution, the Americans agreed that the mandate for the multinational force will expire "upon the completion of the political process" with constitutional elections by the end of next year, or earlier if the Iraqis so request.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was against the U.S.-led war in Iraq, called the U.N. vote "a major step forward."
On his part, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte, who will become U.S. ambassador to Iraq after the handover of power, said the unanimous vote was "a vivid demonstration" of broad international support for "a federal, democratic, pluralist and unified Iraq in which there is full respect for political and human rights."
China's U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya said "Iraqis yearn for a new life under restored sovereignty" and the resolution "will usher in a historic turning point in the Iraqi political process." (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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