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Home > News > PTI

UN rules out Shahrestani as new Iraqi PM

Dharam Shourie in United Nations | May 27, 2004 11:16 IST

Nuclear scientist Hussain al-Shahrestani, a top runner for the post of prime minister in the interim government being assembled by the UN in Iraq, has declined the offer.

The 'clarification' by UN came as members of the Security Council began closed-door consultations on on
the draft resolution on granting sovereignty to Iraq submitted by US and Britain. But there was little movement forward.

The consultations, diplomats said, are taking place in capitals where the final decision would be taken.

A day after Shahrestani's name was given out by American sources, the UN said he prefers not to take up this post of prime minister.

"Shahrestani has himself clarified that he would prefer to serve his country in other ways," UN spokesman in Baghdad said. His statement was made available at the headquarters here.

However, the UN confirmed that Secretary General's special envoy to Iraq Lakhdar Brahimi had met him on several occasions.

Brahimi thinks 'very highly of him, values his advice, and has no doubt that Mr Shahristani could serve his country well in a number of positions in government', the world body said.

Shahrestani had fallen out with Sadddam Hussein over the nuclear weapons issue and was then imprisoned in the now infamous Abu Ghraib prison.

Brahimi, who is trying to assemble an interim government to take over from the Coalition Provisional
Authority by June 30, has a deadline of May 31 for giving his recommendations.

But doubts are now being expressed whether it would be possible though the UN still says he is working to meet the deadline. He is expected to choose one president, two vice presidents and one prime minister besides the members of the government.

Brahimi has yet to finalise his recommendations and is continuing consultations with various parties. Among others, he had met with French Representative Bernard Bajolet in Baghdad, his spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said.

At the headquarters, Chief UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said no decision has been taken on the representative who would serve in the transitional government.

Stressing the process is in the hands of Iraqis, and Brahimi is only a 'facilitator', he said Brahimi would make the announcement only 'when they can agree on a full slate'.

"He (Brahimi) remains of the view that it need to be -- and can be -- brought to closure very soon, so that the new government will have sufficient time to prepare to assume power and engage in meaningful consultations on the forthcoming Security Council resolution," Fawzi said.

The Council is expected to adopt the resolution on Iraqi sovereignty only after Brahimi makes his recommendations known. The US has indicated that it would accept his decision.

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