Bremer locks in Date, Sistani locks in confrontation
February 19 ,2004
Bremer says date to hand over power to Iraqis remains firm as Shiite leader demands UN resolution regarding vote
U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer said Thursday that the formula for establishing a new Iraqi government could be changed but the date for the U.S.-led forces to hand over power remains firm.
At the United Nations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan backed the U.S. stand against holding elections before the June 30 transfer of power to Iraqis. He also said the June 30 date to restore sovereignty to Iraq must be respected.
Bremer noted during his press conference that there were "dozens" of methods for selecting a new government.
"Changes are possible but the date holds," Bremer told reporters. Among the options, he said, were a redesigned "caucus" system or partial elections.
"There are literally dozens of ways to carry out this complicated task," he said, according to The AP. "I invite your attention to how complicated it is."
Bremer also said he expected President Bush to win re-election in November and that there would be no change in American policy in Iraq. "The American people understand the importance of what we've done here," he said.
Meanwhile, Iraq’s influential Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, set out possible terms for delaying Iraqi elections in an interview published Thursday in a German magazine.
“The United Nations has authorized the United States to administer Iraq until June30 ,2004 ,” said al-Sistani in remarks to the news magazine Der Spiegel.
Al-Sistani, who has demanded Iraqi elections by the end of June, said the United Nations would have to get involved if “manoeuvring tactics by the occupiers” led to a delay in transferring sovereignty.
Al-Sistani added his condition for a delay would be a UN Security Council resolution with guarantees there would be no further postponement of a vote. (Albawaba.com)