PARIS, Sept 27: Iraq is far too unsafe to hold elections as scheduled in January and extremists would do well in the poll if Baghdad tried to hold it, Jordan's King Abdullah said in an interview to be published on Tuesday.
Excluding troubled areas from the nation wide poll would only isolate Iraq's Sunnis and create deeper divisions in the country, he told the Paris daily Le Figaro, according to a text distributed in advance.
The United States and Iraq's interim government insist the vote should go ahead as scheduled despite the worsening security situation. But The New York Times quoted US Secretary of State Colin Powell as saying: "We've got a tough road ahead of us."
"It seems impossible to me to organize indisputable elections in the chaos we see today," said the king, who was due to meet French President Jacques Chirac in Paris on Tuesday.
"Only if the situation improved could an election be organized on schedule," he said. "If the elections take place in the current disorder, the best organized faction will be that of the extremists and the result will reflect that advantage.
"With such a scenario, there is no chance the situation will improve," he said. Asked if partial elections would isolate the Sunnis, he said: "That's exactly our worry."
King Abdullah said Iraq should rehire many middle-ranking officers from the old army disbanded by US authorities soon after the fall of Baghdad last year. He said the training of new Iraqi troops should also be longer.
"The faster we reconstitute the old army, the better the new one will be," he said. King Abdullah said he had no news about the fate of two French hostages in Iraq, journalists Christian Chesnot and Le Figaro correspondent Georges Malbrunot. -Reuters