The Methodist Church issued the following statement today. The Methodist Church welcomes the UN Security Council Resolution that legitimises the transfer of power from the Coalition Provisional Authority to an interim Iraqi government on 30 June. However, the new Iraqi government will take over a country that has been devastated by war and its aftermath, as well as by the actions of the old regime and a decade of international sanctions. The Methodist Church recognises that a long-term commitment from the international community supporting the redevelopment of the country is needed to ensure that this damage is repaired. Steve Hucklesby, Secretary for International Affairs, said "After 30 June, the Iraqi people regain full sovereignty and have the opportunity to determine the future shape of their nation with the assistance of the UN. The country will hold elections by 31 January 2005. At the request of the Prime Minister of the new Interim Government, Dr Ayad Allaw, the UN resolution approves a Multinational Force to help provide security. This resolution affirms a vital international consensus on a way forward in Iraq. "In the coming months people are likely to look back and evaluate the actions of the Coalition Provisional Authority. Serious questions continue to be asked concerning the legitimacy of a full-scale invasion of another country without UN approval when one country was not facing an imminent threat. "For many the occupation of Iraq has diverted attention and resources away from the task of combating global terrorism and the conflict in Israel/Palestine. Tensions have increased in Iraq as a result of violence from militia and terrorist groups and the more aggressive campaigns of coalition forces that have resulted in the deaths of many civilians. Around the world, people have been shocked both by the brutal acts of terror groups, such as the beheading of Nick Berg, and by the abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison. The experience of the past 12 months reveals the difficulty of imposing a military intervention in advance of a clear strategy for an impartial political process capable of gaining popular support. "Against this backdrop the UN resolution provides more than a glimmer of hope. The Interim Government of Iraq acknowledges the formidable challenges ahead. Now US and British governments must allow the road to a new Iraq to be navigated by Iraqis themselves with the support of the United Nations."
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