Annan Will Send UN Election Team to Iraq
Kofi Annan will send an election commission to Iraq, the Washington Post reports. This United Nations commission was the idea of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, and initially the Coalition Provisional Authority headed by Paul Bremer was said to be “deeply offended” by the Iraqi attempt to involve the UN in the electoral process.
Annan has already said in the past that he thought holding open elections was impossible before July 1. But Sistani is convinced that an open-minded commission from the UN would discover on examining the situation on the ground in Iraq that popular elections are possible, after all.
As I mentioned last week, the British military authorities in Basra have come to the latter conclusion, as well, and have not been shy about saying so, even though this conclusion differs from the position of the civilian government of Tony Blair. (The British military felt badly used in Bosnia by the civilians, and many resent the lack of equipment they have to suffer with in Iraq, and they therefore tend to speak out with what seems to me striking candor.)
Sistani’s success in involving the UN has guaranteed that, whatever the outcome, Iraqi elections will not be merely a US project, but will have substantial input from the world body. Since this input will help bolster their legitimacy in Iraq and the Arab world, I think it can only be a good thing.