January elections in Iraq still ‘technically possible,’ Secretary-General says

Kofi Annan speaks to reporters

21 October 2004 – Elections scheduled for next January in Iraq are still “technically possible” but security must improve in order for the United Nations to be able to send in more personnel to help with the planning, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today.

Speaking to reporters upon arriving at UN Headquarters in New York, the Secretary-General stressed that it was up to the Iraqis – “who are planning the elections, who are organizing the elections” – to decide if the polls go forward.

“We still have a couple of months yet. But at this point, it is still technically possible, depending upon what happens in the next couple of months,” he said.

The Secretary-General acknowledged that additional UN staff must be sent to Iraq as developments move forward. “But the circumstances have to be conducive in the sense that either we have to notice a genuine improvement in the security environment or solid arrangements for the protection of the staff,” he said.

The United Nations announced yesterday that Fiji has agreed to provide a protective security detail for senior UN officials in Iraq, as well as a guard unit for its facilities in Baghdad.

Talks are still ongoing with the United States-led multinational force (MNF) on a unit to provide UN perimeter security, as well as armed escorts for UN personnel as they travel outside the international zone in Baghdad.

Mr. Annan said the MNF has indicated it “will do that and we are in discussions with them to determine exactly how they will do it and what their capacity is for us to make the judgments that we have to make.”

Video of remarks to the press [10mins]

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