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US presents new Iraq resolution at UN
Dharam Shourie at the United Nations | May 25, 2004 11:17 IST
The United States has unveiled in the UN Security Council the much-awaited draft resolution on Iraq, which calls for transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis, provides for control of interim government over the country's oil resources and creates an American-led multi-national force with initial mandate for one year.
The draft empowers the multi-national force to 'take all necessary measures' to maintain peace and security.
Even though the Bush administration had ignored the UN and some its top officials had declared it irrelevant at the start of the Iraq war, Washington has now agreed to leave it to Secretary General Kofi Annan's special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to name the interim government, which will include a president, two vice presidents, prime minister and 20 other members.
Overall, the draft got a cautiously positive response from the members, including France and Germany who had blocked American efforts to get the Council's okay for military action against Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein.
The Council members have scheduled closed-door meetings on the draft on Wednesday by which time their governments would have studied the implications and diplomats expect that it would be the beginning of a spirited debate, which could last several days.
But members of the interim government are not expected to participate in the discussion because by the time it is constituted, the resolution would have already been adopted.
France wants a timetable for handing over control of police and security forces to the interim government, arguing that Iraqis could not enjoy full sovereignty until they had control over the forces.
The draft proposes a US-led multi-national force with an initial period of one year after which its working would be reviewed.
Germany also says the new Iraqi government should be able to take decisions over the security issues. Otherwise, it would not be truly independent.
The US officials have said that the force would be in the country with the consent of the government and it would be withdrawn if the government demands that. But they do not expect a request for withdrawal in view of the bad security situation in the country.
Germany's UN Ambassador Gunter Pleuger summed up the country's reaction, saying the draft text is 'a good basis for discussions' toward a resolution that will 'make clear that we have a new start in Iraq'.
Washington and its closest ally Britain moved the draft hours before President George W Bush, facing falling approval ratings in an election year, went on television to convince that his administration has an exit strategy.
British UN Ambassador Sir Emyr Jones Parry said the interim government, which takes over on June 30, would assume total responsibility for its own sovereignty.
The resolution envisages a separate force but within the overall command of the multi-national force to provide security to the UN staff. But details are yet to be worked and that would be done in discussions with the world body.
The draft would have the Council endorse 'sovereign interim government of Iraq' that take office by June 30 as also timetable for subsequent steps leading to formation of an elected government by end of the next year.
Giving a major role to the UN in civilian affairs, the resolution would ask the world body to organise a national conference for the selection of an advisory council, which would help the interim government run the country and hold elections.
The draft provides for elections by January 31 for a provisional government, which would draw up a permanent constitution that will lead to election for a government by the end of the next year.
Under the draft, the interim government would take control of the oil and gas resources as also $0.2 billion Iraq Development Fund in which oil revenues have been deposited.
It is now being run by the US-ed coalition. The international board advisory would continue to audit the accounts but would have no say in how it is spent by the Iraqis.
It would also lift arms embargo against Iraq and calls on UN to advise the new government on reconstruction, development, humanitarian aid, establishment of civil and social services and judicial reforms.