Although it formally regained political power this week, Iraq cannot yet resume voting at the United Nations because it has fallen far behind in its U.N. dues payments, the General Assembly said Thursday.
Baghdad must pay at least $14.6 million to regain its vote, the 191-nation U.N. assembly said in a report to Secretary General Kofi Annan. Under U.N. rules, member states lose their vote if their dues go unpaid for two or more years.
The assembly can decide to let a country continue voting if it is satisfied that the dues have gone unpaid "due to conditions beyond the control of the member." But such a decision would not come before the new assembly session opens in September, a U.N. spokeswoman said.
The General Assembly is the main U.N. deliberative body, composed of representatives of all U.N. members, each of which normally has one vote. Even before last year's U.S.-led invasion, Iraq had not kept up with its dues because of U.N. economic sanctions imposed on it in 1990 over Baghdad's invasion of neighboring Kuwait.
Iraq has had no U.N. ambassador since Saddam Hussein's government fell. Mohammed Aldouri, its top envoy before the war, fled New York as the invasion got underway. The rules require that an ambassador's credentials be issued by a nation's head of state, head of government or foreign affairs minister.