UN envoy: Unlikely to hold early elections in Iraq
A U.N. official sided with the United States in its dispute with Iraq's top Shiite clergy over elections, saying Friday it would be hard to organize a vote before the June 30 deadline to hand power to the Iraqis.
But the United Nations' special envoy to Iraq said major changes will be needed in the U.S. formula for creating the next Iraqi government.
The envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, also warned Iraqis to be wary of the risks of civil war as they compete for power.
Brahimi met with council members Friday as he ended a weeklong mission requested by Washington after its plans came under criticism from Iraq's most influential cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani.
A spokesman for Brahimi said al-Sistani's demand for nationwide balloting would probably be too difficult to pull off by July.
"The time between now and June is very short and that makes it unlikely that you can put mechanisms in place," U.N. spokesman Ahmad Fawzi told The Associated Press. "The elections don't have to happen before then."
Brahimi told reporters the Iraqi people's demand for elections was legitimate but Iraqis "should know that elections is a complicated process" and "holding reasonably credible elections is also extremely important."
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)