But they aren't entitled to help hand out Iraqi voter registration cards, it would seem:
The chief of the U.N. Electoral Assistance Division, Carina Perelli, was asked in a press conference about reports that American troops helped Iraqi officials distribute information on the electoral process to Iraqi citizens, and encouraged them to participate in Sunday's vote.That's pretty rich criticism, coming from the UN, who, if I recall correctly, fled Iraq with unseemly haste after one of their higher-ranking bureaucrats was killed.
Ms. Perelli said that U.N. officials spent time "asking, begging military commanders precisely not to do that," but the time has not been well-spent. The Americans were "overenthusiastic in trying to help out with these elections," she said. "We have basically been saying they should try to minimize their participation because this is an Iraqi process."
At the same time, she acknowledged that the U.N. itself is "not happy" with the way information on the election was disseminated. There are 22 U.N. election experts stationed in Baghdad as part of an international group of 40 election workers advising the Iraqi Independent Electoral Commission, she said.
American officials scoffed at the criticism. "There are 150,000 U.S. troops as part of the coalition in Iraq, who are there to do a number of things but primary among them is to help the Iraqis hold their own election," Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Barry Venable told The New York Sun. He acknowledged Americans helped distribute information on voter registration, but added that it was done at the Iraqi Electoral Commission's request.
I think this comes down to one simple fact. The US and its coalition partners have done the UN's job for them, yet again. If the UN doesn't desperately cling to any vague insinuation of American wrongdoing, all that is left to the 'world body' is the act of admitting its complete irrelevance. If that means - by default - opposing the success of the fledgling Iraqi democracy, then so be it.