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Last Updated: Friday, 26 September, 2003, 14:22 GMT 15:22 UK
'An occupation cannot last'
Sergio Vieira de Mello
Sergio Vieira de Mello during his last ever interview

The UN's special envoy to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, voiced his hopes and fears for the country in his final television interview, before he was killed in a car bomb explosion last month.

He told BBC One's Panorama programme that he wanted the handover of power to the Iraqi people to take place as quickly as possible.

Less than 48 hours after the interview ended - on 19 August - the Brazilian diplomat was killed along with 21 other people, when the UN headquarters in Baghdad was struck by a suicide bomb.

You occupy with a military force but you can't restore law and order with it
Sergio Vieira de Mello

In the programme, to be broadcast on 28 September, he said: "We're all betting on the successful transition from the Saddam Hussein era to a democracy.

"A stable, united, peaceful Iraq that no longer threatens its neighbours, as Saddam did for so long.

"You occupy with a military force but you can't restore law and order with it.

"This is why an occupation cannot last. Since this country is occupied, the occupation should be kept as short as possible, particularly when it comes to the security sector."

'Unnecessarily rough'

Vieira de Mello told Panorama that he felt that some soldiers were "unnecessarily rough", adding: "I have made that point, and again, often not respecting local sensitivities, of culture and religion.

"That is unnecessary because I presume we can achieve the same purpose by displaying more respect for local traditions and local culture."

Soldiers are bad policemen, they're not trained for that
Sergio Vieira de Mello

Before taking the post in Iraq, Vieira de Mello had a wealth of experience in peacekeeping situations, having been a special UN representative in Kosovo and the head of UN operations in East Timor.

He was convinced that soldiers could not be policemen.

He said: "I have discovered in my career, and I've been in six or seven peacekeeping operations, that soldiers are bad policemen, they're not trained for that.

"And as a rule one should never use the military for law and order tasks. Which is why so many mistakes are being committed here."

He warned of potential dire consequences if Iraq did not make the transition into a peaceful democracy.

"This country could turn into a true and long-term anarchy which would affect its neighbours in the region as a whole," he said.

Panorama: The Price of Victory will be broadcast on BBC One on Sunday, 28 September, 2003 at 2215 BST.

The Price of Victory
10 Sep 03  |  Panorama
Iraq: Two sides of the same coin
25 Sep 03  |  Panorama
Your comments
25 Sep 03  |  Panorama
Obituary: Sergio Vieira de Mello
19 Aug 03  |  Americas


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