DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Adnan Pachachi, passed over for the post of Iraq's interim president, said he may run for the office when his country's transition from U.S. occupation to democracy is complete.
Pachachi, a former foreign minister, told CNN on Thursday he believed he enjoyed the support of many of his countrymen - "that's why (U.N. envoy) Lakhdar Brahimi offered me the presidency. There's no other reason."
Pachachi rejected reports the United States wanted to install him as president, saying he had instead been endorsed by "thousands" of Iraqis canvassed by Brahimi.
But Pachachi said he refused the post "in order to preserve my reputation and my honor" because the perception had grown that the United States wanted to impose him on Iraq.
He said "some elements" in the current Iraqi political position had opposed him without proper reasons.
"The presidency was supposed to be given to a Sunni Arab, and the people who opposed me had no right to interefere in his choice, who were mostly the Shiite members of the council and some of the Kurds," he said.
Most members of the U.S.-picked Iraqi Governing Council backed Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer, a Sunni Muslim critic of the U.S.-led occupation. Al-Yawer was named to the largely ceremonial post of president on Tuesday.
"The Iraqi Governing Council has absolutely no right to decide unilaterally who should be president ...,' Pachachi told CNN in the Emirates, where he arrived Thursday. Until a U.S.-led invasion toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, Pachachi had lived in exile in the Emirates, where he had served as an adviser to the rulers.
A deadlock over the presidency had delayed the Cabinet announcement by one day and threatened a rift with the Americans at a time when Washington was under pressure internationally to grant Iraqis full sovereignty.
According to Iraqi politicians, the Americans insisted that Pachachi become president. Most of the Governing Council wanted al-Yawer, a 45-year-old engineer and tribal leader.
Tuesday's announcement of an interim government capped four weeks of deliberations by Brahimi, the coalition, the Governing Council and thousands of Iraqis whose advice and views Brahimi sought.
Despite being turned down for the presidency, Pachachi said he still felt U.S.-led occupation forces were necessary - until an Iraqi military and police force was strong enough to fight the insurgency.
"I would say the presence of foreign troops in Iraq would be dependent on the speed with which you are able to organize the police and civil defense and security forces to be able to adequately confront these dangers."
Pachachi, a son of a former prime minister under the Iraqi monarchy, served as a diplomat and envoy to the United Nations under several Iraqi governments before he was appointed foreign minister in the government that was toppled in 1968 in a coup by Saddam's Baath Party.