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Brahimi calls for national assembly in July

Now that an interim government has been named, Iraqis should work to appoint national assembly members from around the country in July and prepare for elections by January, the top United Nations representative in Iraq said on Wednesday. An assembly of more than 1,000 people will be involved in a July conference, said Lakhdar Brahimi, Special Adviser to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The assembly, to be headed by a representative of Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani, should elect a national council to advise the new government, Brahimi added. "We hope this will give even more representation to Iraqis than the interim government," Brahimi said at a press conference in the capital, Baghdad. Members of the US-appointed Iraq Governing Council (IGC), which dissolved itself on Monday, will set up the July conference, along with representatives from Iraq's 18 governorates, Brahimi said. Those setting up the conference should come from all walks of life, not just political parties, he added. Brahimi's announcement comes on the heels of the appointment of a new government, sworn in on Tuesday, that includes new Sunni Muslim President Sheikh Ghazi al-Yawar; Iyad Allawi, a Shi'ite Muslim, as prime minister; two deputy presidents and 26 ministers. He called on them on Wednesday to do their best to prepare for national elections by January. "Only an elected government can legitimately represent Iraq," the senior UN official stressed, adding that if people felt the new government did not represent everything they hoped for, it still would be the best for the time being. "It is ultimately up to the Iraq people to judge this government and how it works," he maintained. The new government has a strong cadre of technocrats who represent various regions around the country. Overall, it reflects extremely difficult negotiations with many compromises. Leaders were chosen for their honesty and experience, Brahimi said. He and other UN officials met thousands of Iraqis from all parts of society over the last month to come up with a list of candidates for the government, he said. The group originally came to Iraq in February at the request of the IGC and US-led administrators to discuss the feasibility of holding an election before 30 June, when the scheduled handover of sovereignty was to take place. UN officials at that time said a national election could not be held without at least eight months of preparation. Negotiations are continuing in New York with Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq's foreign minister, about the UN's role in the post-30 June Iraq, Brahimi said. "Every Iraqi must also work to make security better in the country," he said, adding that a politically stable government would help bring peace. A car bomb on Monday killed at least four people and injured more than 20 near Coalition headquarters in Baghdad. Iraqis generally blame US-led forces for the continuing poor security situation. "We will try to create a suitable environment for elections," Brahimi maintained. "All of the talent [of the new government] will be needed to make free and fair elections [a success] no later than January 2005."

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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