Visiting U.N. special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said Wednesday that holding completely free elections in Iraq would be a “daunting exercise.”
Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister, led a mission to Iraq earlier this month. He compiled a report concluding that credible elections need months of preparations and cannot be held before June 30, when the United States plans to hand over power to Iraqis.
Speaking at the Japan National Press Club, Brahimi said Iraq’s long history of rule under dictatorships, wars and foreign occupation does not make a good environment for free elections.
“The best, the freest, the fairest elections” may not come easily, he said.
But the United Nations and Iraqis are aiming to hold polls “whose results will be considered as reasonably acceptable to the large majority of people of Iraq,” he said.
Later Wednesday, Brahimi met Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi, who expressed support for the report and promised to provide continued humanitarian assistance in areas such as education and medical services, a ministry official said.
Brahimi also called attention to other parts of the world, especially Palestine and Afghanistan, which he said are suffering from waning international interest and engagement. He served for two years through January as the chief U.N. envoy in Afghanistan.
“Globalization is not only about selling Coca-Cola and Toyota,” he said. “Conflict is also globalized.”
Problems such as the proliferation of drugs and guns in one troubled nation could spill over into neighboring countries, he said, citing Afghanistan as an example.