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Iraqi official: Kurds, council reach agreement

Iraq Governing Council member Mowaffak Al Rubaie
Iraq Governing Council member Mowaffak Al Rubaie

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(CNN) -- A U.S.-backed plan for caucus-style elections before the June 30 handover faces significant opposition in Iraq. The Americans and Iraqis are awaiting a U.N. report on the prospects of having direct elections for a transitional legislature before the transfer of power.

CNN Anchor Bill Hemmer talked Wednesday with Mowaffak Al Rubaie, a Shiite member of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, who said Kurdish officials have agreed to a plan governing the relationship between Kurds and the Baghdad government during the transitional period.

HEMMER: There's a story back in the U.S. from The New York Times that suggests there's already a bit of a split occurring, the Kurds in the north, the Shiites in the south, saying they will be ready to continue elections but leaving out the Sunni majority in the central part of Iraq. What do you know about this plan, and would you support it?

RUBAIE: I would certainly support the plan for elections, and most Iraqis, the overwhelming majority of Iraqis support early elections, and we want to have a new government -- a credible, transparent, inclusive, representative government. That's what all Iraqis want. I'm sure Arabs, Kurds, Shiites, Sunnis -- they want the elections, and I can break the news for CNN that our Kurd brothers have agreed to a plan to govern the relationship between Baghdad and the Kurdistan of Iraq province.

HEMMER: So you are a Shiite, point of fact, and you are saying you want these elections to be inclusive, but back to the Sunni population being excluded. That would not be inclusive if the plan you are talking about goes forward, correct?

RUBAIE: Well, this is the very point we are talking about. We wanted the new provisional government to govern Iraq during the transitional period to have some credibility, some inclusiveness, some representativeness. That's the whole idea.

... We wanted people to see the people of Iraq are so eager to go to the ballot boxes and to cast their votes and to choose their representative. That's what we wanted to do.

We are working very closely with Lakhdar Brahimi, the special representative of [Secretary-General] Kofi Annan from the United Nations. We are working to work out a formula to answer this question -- [what] is the most representative way, and when is the best date, if you like -- what's the earliest date the United Nations can help the Iraqis to do this election? That's what we are talking about now.

HEMMER: ... The news you are telling us now ... is that the Kurdish leadership has reached agreement with those in Baghdad to go forward with some sort of democratic election. Is that what you are saying now?

RUBAIE: Well, basically, the difference with our Kurd colleagues, is that they now [have] agreed with the [U.S.-led] Coalition Provisional Authority and then with the Governing Council about what is the relationship between the center and the Kurdistan of Iraq province during the transitional period. And we have agreed broadly on this. I mean, most of us have agreed broadly on this new arrangement.


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