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March 31, 2004

Iraqi Council Bars UN from Overseeing Elections


by Juan Cole

Al-Hayat reports that the Interim Governing Council (IGC) is rejecting any role for the United Nations in overseeing Iraqi elections save that of "help and consultation). Iraqi National Congress spokesman Intifadh Qanbar said that the UN delegation was told by the IGC that elections would have to be a purely Iraqi affair, that Iraqis would have to take the leading role in them, and that there would be no UN role in administering elections. He also said that no interference would be brooked from Iraq's neighbors.

Qanbar and the INC sharply criticized UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi for having opposed the first Gulf War (which aimed at forcing Saddam back out of Kuwait), and blamed him for meeting with Saddam in 1998. He also criticized Brahimi's statement that Iraq might face a civil war. Muhammad Bahr al-Ulum, a cleric now in the last days of his temporary presidency of the IGC, had also complained two days ago in Kuwait that Brahimi's report on Iraq had lacked balance.

Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress has rejected charges that he had misused American funds, saying that such charges derived from the CIA and that they were false.

Chalabi was supported by the CIA and the State Department around 1992 to 1996 or so, when they dropped him because he could not give an accounting of the millions of dollars they had given him to overthrow Saddam. He was then picked up by the Pentagon instead, and especially once the Bush administration came to power.

The attempt by the INC to marginalize Brahimi and the United Nations reflects Chalabi's fear that he would not be able to win a fair, UN-supervised election. One fears he plans on vote-buying and other corrupt acts to be elected or appointed to a high Iraqi governing post, possibly as Prime Minister. Although the al-Hayat story says that the IGC wants to limit the UN role, if one looks carefully this move seems to be coming mainly from Chalabi and his people.


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    Juan Cole is Professor of History at the University of Michigan. Visit his blog.

     

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