UNITED NATIONS, April 16 (UPI) -- A U.N. spokeswoman said Friday the electoral assistance team in Iraq has left the country and is returning to U.N. World Headquarters in New York.
Marie Okabe said the team is expected to brief U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on its work in a few days.
Thursday, Okabe announced Annan special adviser Lakhdar Brahimi wound up an 11-day visit to Iraq but would not report to the secretary-general until the end of the month. Brahimi was studying the political situation as well as consulting on the scheduled January 2005 elections.
The spokeswoman said Carina Perelli, director of the U.N. Electoral Assistance Division who headed up the electoral team, said Thursday the world organization was concerned the security situation in the Iraq should stabilize for elections before balloting would be held.
However, "in any post-conflict situation, the country has never stabilized so much when elections occur that violence is totally absent," Perelli said, noting that elections have been held even in places that have a relatively stabilized semi-violent environment, such as in Colombia.
Perelli also mentioned plans for an independent electoral commission, comprised of Iraqis, and stressed the U.N. role was one of assistance.