6 killed in Baghdad suicide blast
* Pachachi proposes 18-month presidency for Iraq
* United States blacklists Kurdish-Turkish group as terrorist
BAGHDAD: Five Iraqis plus a suicide bomber were killed when a powerful car bomb tore off the front of a hotel in central Baghdad early Wednesday, a coalition military spokesman said.
“Five Iraqis, the driver of the van were killed,” the spokesman said, adding that between 400 pounds and 500 pounds of explosives were used in the attack. There was “extensive damage to the ground floor of the hotel,” he said, confirming witness reports that vehicle was either an ambulance or had been painted “with a red crescent to look like an ambulance.”
Iraqi police and US military officials had previously said the blast, which tore the front off the Shahine hotel and damaged a nearby police post in the capital’s upmarket Karrada district had killed three people. Another coalition spokesman said a Briton and an undetermined number of Iraqis were wounded. UN chief Kofi Annan said Wednesday he remains concerned about security, which is the “determinant” factor in deciding when to send a United Nations team to Baghdad.
He said he was insisting on “appropriate security measures” before sending a UN team back to Iraq to study whether fair elections can be held before the planned transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi people at the end of June.
“Let’s me be quite honest and clear: we are still concerned about security,” he said, adding that the UN Security Council had mandated him to decide when the UN team should go to Baghdad.
Iraq could be governed by a three-member presidency for 18 months after the US-led coalition hands over power in June, Adnan Pachachi, the current leader of the US-appointed interim Governing Council, said Wednesday.
Pachachi told a “town hall”-style meeting in Baghdad that Iraq could be steered by a team rather than a single helmsman until elections due to be held in 2005.
According to a controversial November 15 power transfer agreement, a transitional legislative assembly and government will be given control of Iraq when the US-run occupation ends on June 30. The provisional government will then rule Iraq until elections are held in 2005.
Iraq will ask the United Nations to carry out a general census of the population in order to prepare for general elections, said Pachachi.
“The United Nations will have an essential role in helping in the constitutional process,” Pachachi told a “town hall”-style meeting in Iraq’s capital.
“We will ask the United Nations to carry out a general census and assist in preparing voter rolls and lay out a law on political parties,” he said.
A US decision to blacklist a Kurdish-Turkish military group as a terror organisation will be applied to its operations in Iraq, US chief civilian administrator Paul Bremer said here Wednesday.
“The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and its aliases the Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress (KADEK) and the Kurdistan People’s Congress (Kongra Gel) are terrorist organizations and have been designated as such under US law,” Bremer confirmed in a statement.
“Coalition forces and Iraqi security forces will treat the PKK/KADEK/Kongra Gel as terrorists. There is no place for terrorism or terrorist organizations in the new Iraq,” he added. —Agenciess