Sun, Sep 26, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Allawi pleads for help from the UN

'NOBLE DREAM' The Iraqi prime minister said that a failure to entrench democracy in his country would be on the heads of the UN and the countries that constitute it

AFP , UNITED NATIONS

Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi appealed to world leaders at the UN to put aside their differences over the war and help rebuild his shattered nation.

Allawi made an impassioned appeal on Friday for international support, particularly in the fight against the "terrorists" he said were trying to wreak havoc in Iraq after the removal of former president Saddam Hussein.

"Our struggle is your struggle, our victory will be your victory. And if we are defeated, it will be your defeat," he said in a speech to the UN General Assembly.

"I appeal to all representatives from the countries gathered here to help Iraq defeat the forces of terrorism and help Iraq build a better future for the people of Iraq," he said.

He said his nation was facing "a struggle between the Iraqi people and its vision for the future of peace and democracy, and the terrorists and extremists and the remnants of the Saddam regime who are targeting this noble dream."

Allawi's appearance before the world body came after a high-profile visit to Washington for talks with US President George W. Bush and other top officials, as both the US and Iraq grapple with a major insurgency.

Facing an audience filled with many nations who bitterly opposed the US-led war, Allawi said differences about the US-led invasion, and Bush's handling of the post-war chaos, should not be an obstacle to international help.

Allawi also took aim at "for-eigners who infiltrated Iraq from neighboring countries" to take part in the insurgency that has complicated Iraq's steps toward self-rule, in particular elections scheduled for January.

"We are committed to this timeline despite the complexities and difficulties, and we are capable of meeting that deadline thanks to your help," he said.

After his speech, Allawi met with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who earlier this month cast doubt on whether credible elections could be held given the uncertain security situation in Iraq.

Allawi said he was confident all Iraqis would be able to take part in January's elections, rejecting fears that security issues could preclude voting in some areas.

"There is no partial election, there will be one election. All Iraqis will be able to vote," Allawi said after meeting with Annan.

He stressed that Annan had promised to do his best to help with the electoral process.

"That is what we agreed upon," he said.

UN personnel are helping prepare the election but no nations have yet committed troops for a planned force dedicated to protecting UN staff on the ground in Iraq.

Allawi said predictions about the security situation come January were purely hypothetical.

"We are talking about an election in January. We are now still in September. By January, we hope that everything is settled. Every eligible Iraqi will be able to vote, everywhere in Iraq," he said.

Earlier in the week US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said elections should go ahead even if they cannot be held in cities held by anti-US rebels, and then was contradicted by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage on Friday.

"The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq is working closely with the United Nations to ensure that the elections are legitimate and credible, and that all eligible Iraqi voters have the opportunity to cast a ballot," Armitage told the US Congress.

"They are pulling together a voter registration system, have launched a public information campaign and are completing elections rules and procedures, with our support and advice," Armitage said in a written statement to the House Appropriations Committee's Foreign Operations panel.

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