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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

SLUG: 2-310610 Iraq / Future Government (L-O)









INTRO: Two influential U-S senators say the United States must proceed with great care in helping to lay the foundation for a future Iraqi government -- or risk engendering animosity that could imperil U-S objectives in the country. V-O-A's Michael Bowman has details from Washington.

TEXT: Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut recently returned from a trip to Iraq and says he is troubled by a lack of consensus on the best way to chose a transitional government, currently slated to be in place by next June. Mr. Dodd, a Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke on the U-S television program, C-N-N's "Late Edition."

/// DODD ACT ///

We (the United States) need to make sure that the interim authority is chosen properly. If we try to hand-pick that authority contrary to what the Iraqi people want, then we could make a huge mistake. We better be very careful. If we do not have a government that enjoys the support of the Iraqi people pretty soon over there, then we are going to be asked to pack our bags (leave Iraq).

/// END ACT ///

An influential Iraqi Shiite Muslim cleric is demanding direct elections for a transitional government, while U-S officials favor an indirect, caucus-style procedure. Senator Dodd says, however the new leaders are chosen, the process must have the broad backing of the Iraqi people -- and the participation of the United Nations.

On that point, he got no argument from a Republican colleague, Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, who spoke on the same program:

/// HAGEL ACT ///

The United Nations and the internationalization of this effort is absolutely critical to the outcome and the interests of all of us.

/// END ACT ///

Mr. Hagel added that, ultimately, Iraqis themselves will be responsible for the government they chose.

/// HAGEL ACT ///

You cannot impose a Jeffersonian democracy on anyone. If, in fact, the premise here is to allow the Iraqis to govern themselves, then they are going to have to make those choices themselves.

/// END ACT ///

Also appearing on "Late Edition" was Jordan's King Abdullah, who cautioned that some segments of Iraqi society are better-prepared to participate in direct elections than others.


If you are going to have elections, you have to give all the constituencies in Iraq a fair chance. If we are keeping to the July (2004) deadline, there needs to be some homework done to make sure that all of Iraqi society has a fair chance at elections. At the moment some groups are much more organized than others.

/// END ACT ///

The Jordanian monarch added that an eventual U-S disengagement from Iraq must be orderly and well thought-out so as not to leave the populace in what he called an "impossible situation." (SIGNED)


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