18 December 2004
THE UN SECRETARY-GENERAL
Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Secretary-General has been briefed regularly by his Special Adviser, Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi,
on his talks in Iraq, including today's meeting in Najaf with Grand Ayatollah Sistani and
on the progress of the UN Fact-Finding Team. The
Team has had contact with a wide range of Iraqi opinion, and has been listening to the
views expressed by Iraqis on the best means
of effecting a peaceful and stable transition.
Secretary-General understands that there is a consensus emerging from the Team's contacts
that direct national elections are the best way to establish a parliament and government
in Iraq that are fully representative and legitimate.
At the same time, there is wide agreement that elections must be carefully
prepared, and that they must be organized in technical, security and political conditions
that give the best chance of producing a result that reflects the wishes of the Iraqi
electorate and thus contributes to long-term peace and stability in Iraq.
Secretary-General will be briefed fully next week when Mr. Brahimi returns to New York,
after participating in the meeting in Kuwait this weekend of Foreign Ministers of States
bordering Iraq, and of Egypt."
Secretary-General deplores the loss of life during Israeli military incursions in Gaza
yesterday, which led to clashes in which at least 15 Palestinians, including civilians,
were killed. More than 50 Palestinians have
been reported injured so far, among them several
Secretary-General urges Israel to abide by its obligations under international law. This includes ceasing to use disproportionate
force in densely populated areas and taking greater care to avoid harm to innocent
Republic of the Congo
Secretary-General is deeply saddened to hear the news of the tragic killing of a MONUC
military observer early this morning (New York time) in Ituri (northeastern Democratic
Republic of the Congo). The incident took
place after an ambush of a MONUC military and civilian convoy travelling from Katoto to
Bunia, the main town in Ituri.
Secretary-General reaffirms MONUC's determination in cooperating with the Government of
the DRC to pursue the culprits and bring to justice all those who are responsible for this
reprehensible and criminal act."