U.N. Special Advisor Lakhdar Brahimi on the Political Situation in Iraq


U.N. Special Advisor Lakhdar Brahimi on the Political Situation in Iraq

2004-04-15 | Opening statement of Lakhdar Brahimi, Special Advisor to the Secretary-General, at joint press conference with Mr. Massoud Barzani, President of the Iraqi Governing Council - Baghdad

14 April

It is a pleasure for me to be standing here before you with H.E. Massoud Barzani, the President of the Governing Council.

This visit of our team is taking place in particularly difficult security conditions. I would like to renew here the expression of my deep sorrow for the loss of life and the destruction that has befallen Fallujah, parts of Baghdad and other places up and down the country. The Secretary-General has expressed his anxiety and spoken to the U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. We are hopeful that the ceasefire decreed in Fallujah and the talks engaged both in Fallujah and in the South will lead to peaceful resolutions.

Because of the security situation, then, our movements have been somewhat restricted. But we did manage to meet a large number of people representing various constituencies including members of the Governing Council, Ministers, political parties, trade unions, professional associations and other civil society organizations, women groups, academics, intellectuals and artists, etc.
We were planning to visit a number of cities, but we were able to go only to Mosul and we also hope to visit Basra during this trip.

I will then be going to New York to brief the Secretary-General and seek his guidance on the way forward. I also expect to meet the President and Members of the Security Council.

My recommendations to the Secretary-General will be finalized only after our return to Iraq and after we conduct more consultations, with more people in Baghdad and elsewhere in this country.

I can, however, share with you a few thoughts, a few preliminary observations and a few still very tentative ideas we are discussing:

1. We believe that the present security situation makes it more important and more urgent for the political process to continue and we expect all stakeholders to re-double their efforts to ensure this process is successfully completed.

2. Let me emphasise from the outset that in this political process in Iraq, the elections scheduled to take place in January 2005 are the most important milestone. There is no substitute for the legitimacy that comes from free and fair elections. Therefore, Iraq will have a genuinely representative Government only after January 2005.

3. What the aim should be, at present, is to put in place a caretaker Government that will be in charge from 1st July 2004 until the elections in January 2005. We are confident that it will be possible to form such a Government in a timely manner, i.e. during the month of May 2004. We see it as a Government led by a Prime Minister and comprising Iraqi men and women known for their honesty, integrity and competence. There will also be a President to act as Head of State and two Vice-Presidents.

4. According to both the 15 November 2003 Agreement and the Transitional Administrative Law, the Governing Council, along with the CPA, will cease to exist on 30 June 2004. Some of its members are already assuming other responsibilities. Other members will no doubt be called upon to participate in various State institutions.

5. During our consultations, a very large number of our interlocutors suggested that a large National Conference should be convened. We see merit in this suggestion. It would serve the all-important aim of promoting national dialogue, consensus building and national reconciliation in Iraq. A preparatory Committee should be established soon to start the preparatory work and the Conference could take place soon after the restoration of sovereignty, in July 2004.

6. The National Conference would elect a Consultative Assembly to serve alongside the Government during the period leading to the elections of the National Assembly which, it is agreed, will take place in January 2005.

7. To return to the subject of elections, a U.N. electoral team has been in Baghdad for some time now. They are working diligently to help with the preparatory work for the January 2005 elections. They have visited some cities in the North and in the South. Like us, their movements are somewhat restricted at present by the prevailing security situation. But they remain confident that they can help out. But it is important and urgent that, on the Iraqi side, the necessary steps are taken, so that elections can take place at the appointed time in January 2005. Naturally, the security situation has to improve significantly for these elections to take place in an acceptable environment.

8. Last but not least, during our consultations, in February as well as at present, we heard of many grievances which need to be addressed. Detainees are held often without charge or trial. They should be either charged or released, and their families and lawyers must have access to them. The issue of former military personnel also needs attention. Furthermore, it is difficult to understand that thousands upon thousands of teachers, university professors, medical doctors and hospital staff, engineers and other professionals who are sorely needed, have been dismissed within the de-Baathification process, and far too many of those cases have yet to be reviewed.

All these are ideas which will be submitted to the Secretary-General and further discussed both during the wide consultations scheduled to be organized by the Committee set up for this purpose by the Governing Council and by our own team. I believe that the political framework that I outlined for the setting up of the interim government, the organization of a national dialogue conference, combined with a number of confidence building measures addressing real concerns of the Iraqis, should, I hope, help this country to move forward towards recovery, peace and stability.

Thank you.

(end of Statement)

Please also see:

UN confident Iraqi interim government will be formed ahead of power transfer - Brahimi

The U.N. and Iraq