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Annan: UN Committed to Helping Iraq Form Democratic Government - 2004-02-24


UN Secretary General Kofi Annan says the world body is committed to helping Iraqis assume control of their destiny and form a democratic government.

Speaking in Tokyo today (Tuesday), Mr. Annan said the United Nations will be ready to help organize elections in Iraq once an interim government assumes sovereignty from the U.S. -led occupation authority.

The United States plans to transfer power in Iraq by June 30th, but it is not yet clear who will take over.

Iraq's powerful Shiite community wants elections to chose a transitional government.

Mr. Annan says Iraqis must agree on an "interim mechanism" to assume sovereignty and carryout essential function during the time needed to prepare for elections.

A UN report released Monday says general elections in Iraq could take place later this year or early 2005, if Iraqi leaders come to an agreement and election laws are enacted. The report also says UN experts believe at least eight months would be needed to prepare for credible elections.

Meanwhile, Monday in Iraq, at least seven people were killed and dozens of other were wounded in a suicide bombing at a police station in the northern city of Kirkuk.

Iraqi police officials say most of those killed in the explosion in the city's Kurdish section were policemen.

Information for this report is AP, AFP and Reuters.

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