UN team holds meeting with Iraq's senior Shiite cleric
UN experts examining whether early elections can be held in Iraq met Thursday with the country's top Shiite cleric in Najaf, who has pressed US administrators to hold a ballot before they transfer power to Iraqis on June 30.
The United Nations specialists met with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani at his home in the Shiite holy city of Najaf amid tight security, with Iraqi police closing off roads around the modest house. UN cars were seen outside the building, and an official from al-Sistani's office said the team was inside.
Al-Sistani threw US plans for the transfer of power into disarray when he insisted elections be held to choose a new legislature and tens of thousands of his supporters staged demonstrations in Baghdad and Basra backing the demand.
The American plan, agreed to by the IGC, calls for legislators to be chosen in regional caucuses. American administrators and some Iraqi officials say there is no time to organize a general election before the June 30 deadline for a new provisional Iraqi government to take power.
Washington asked the United Nations to dispatch its team, led by envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, to determine whether a vote is feasible. The UN team, in Iraq since Sunday, has been meeting US administrators and Governing Council members in Baghdad. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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