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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

09 January 2005

No Alternative to Elections in Iraq, Powell Says

Secretary also discusses Palestinian elections, Sudan, tsunami relief

By Howard Cincotta
Washington File Special Correspondent

Washington -- The Iraqi people must be given the opportunity to choose how they will be governed through democratic elections, even though such elections will not suddenly end the insurgency there, Secretary of State Colin Powell said in a series of television news interviews January 9.

Powell spoke from Nairobi, Kenya, where he represented the United States at the signing of peace accords ending Sudan's long-lasting civil war.

There is no alternative to elections now, Powell said on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulus.  Elections will serve to undercut the insurgency by giving the Iraqi people their own elected government rather than one seen as appointed by Americans or other outsiders, he continued.

On Fox News Sunday, Powell said: "We're going to have to defeat this insurgency in the field, with coalition troops, with Iraqi troops, and hopefully, with an elected government that the people will now turn to as their government, not just a government appointed by the coalition or appointed by the United Nations."

Powell expressed hope on ABC's This Week that most Sunnis would feel that they have a fair opportunity to participate in the elections on January 30 and adequate representation in the Transitional National Assembly that will write a new constitution for Iraq.

U.S. and coalition forces will need to remain in Iraq for some time, but Powell said that he anticipates that Iraqi security forces will grow significantly in 2005 and become "increasingly capable."

"And I think they'll become increasingly capable if they know they are working for their own government, and not an appointed government, but an elected government," he said.

Commenting on the January 9 election of a new Palestinian president, Powell said that the United States will work to help reform the Palestinian Authority and end corruption as well as to cooperate with Egypt, Jordan, and others to rebuild the Palestinian security forces so that they can take control of Gaza when Israel withdraws from the area in the next eight or nine months.

The United States, in cooperation with the European Union and other nations, is also prepared to contribute more financial aid to the Palestinians, according to Powell.

"The United States will push for all of the elements in the roadmap," Powell said on ABC's This Week, including an end to violence and terror, cessation of settlement activity, and confidence-building measures such as the release of Palestinian prisoners.  

"All of that is provided for in the road map, and with good will, and with good leadership coming into the Palestinian Authority, it is now time to get going on the road map," Powell said.  "And President Bush has made it clear that the United States would play an active role in the execution of the road map."

On Fox News Sunday, Powell termed the Sudan peace agreement between Khartoum and the southern rebel movement a historic end to 20 years of conflict that holds hope of opening a new era of peace.

"I hope that as a result of this agreement, the two sides working together can work together to solve the problem of Darfur," Powell said. 

He acknowledged the attacks against people in Darfur, although he declined to characterize the current violence as genocide.  However, Powell stressed the urgency of ending the attacks of both the government-backed Jingaweit militia as well as rebel groups in the region.

On a CNN news broadcast, Powell commented on the impact of seeing firsthand the devastation caused by the tsunami that has killed more than 150,000.  Powell traveled to the tsunami-ravaged countries of Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka January 2-7.

"No briefing book, no television picture really can convey what really happened here to drive through the town, to see all these fishing boats that have been tossed up on the shore," he said.  "I've been in war and I've been through a number of hurricanes, tornadoes and other relief operations but I have never seen anything like this."

Powell said that the international response to the tsunami had been very good, adding that the United States would remain engaged in relief and recovery efforts over the long term, in cooperation with international aid organizations, the United Nations and other countries.

"We will be making an assessment over time to see what is needed, and $350 million isn't enough," Powell said on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer.  "I'm sure the President will try to get more into the account."

Powell warned, however, that such assistance has to be based on a careful assessment of what is needed, and not just the size of the financial commitment. 

The United States also will ensure that relief funding does not come at the expense of other relief and development priorities elsewhere in the world, Powell said on CNN.

Secretary Powell's January 9 television news interviews are available online at:

ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulus:

FOX News Sunday:

CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer:

For additional information on U.S. tsunami relief efforts, see "U.S. Response to Tsunami and Earthquake in Asia" at:

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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