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Annan to Unveil Iraq Election Recommendations - 2004-02-19


UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is expected to make public today(Thursday) his recommendations on the issue of holding elections in Iraq.

UN diplomats says Mr. Annan will endorse the U.S. position that elections are not feasible before the planned transfer of power to an interim Iraqi government by June 30th.

But the diplomats also say Mr. Annan is expected to delay - for at least a week -- a recommendation on how to select an Iraqi government to assume sovereignty.

Diplomats say the U.S. backed plan for regional caucuses to chose a transitional government is no longer workable. They say other options being considered include handing over power to an expanded Iraqi Governing Council and advancing national elections. The current plan calls for general elections by the end of next year.

Meanwhile in Iraq, the U.S. military says insurgents fired more than 30 mortars and five rockets at the Abu Ghraib prison on the western edge of Baghdad late Wednesday, slightly injuring one soldier. A spokesman said U.S. troops shot and killed one of the attackers and detained 55 people for questioning.

Abu Ghraib is one of the largest U.S. run prison facility in Iraq. It was Iraq's most notorious prison during the rule of Saddam Hussein.

Earlier, the U.S. military arrested seven people suspected of links to the al-Qaida terrorist network. The men were captured in the town of Baquba, about 60-kilometers northeast of the Iraqi capital, during a raid on what is described as an anti-coalition cell. Fifteen other people were also detained during the raid.

The nationalities of the suspects have not been revealed. Coalition authorities have repeatedly said they suspect foreign elements are increasingly getting involved in insurgent activities.

Information for this report is provided by AP and AFP.

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