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February 11, 10

NEWS / Iraq: UN envoy calls on leaders to safeguard integrity of upcoming polls

11 February 2010 – The top United Nations envoy to Iraq today called on the country’s political leaders to step up their efforts to ensure that next month’s Council of Representatives election is free and fair, with campaigning for the polls set to start tomorrow.
Calling on them to safeguard the integrity of the democratic process, Ad Melkert, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, underscored that each institution involved in the 7 March elections must operate free of political interference.

“The consolidation of democracy in Iraq will depend on the willingness of Iraq’s political leaders to collective ensure a transparent, peaceful election,” he stressed.

In December, Mr. Melkert, who heads the UN mission in the country (UNAMI), met with parliamentarians from the Kurdish Alliance Bloc to discuss the electoral law finalized that month allowing for the polls to take place.

The compromise in the electoral law centres on the allocation of seats in parliament, which the UN official and the Kurdish lawmakers reaffirmed would be used exclusively for the Council of Representatives election.

National polling was originally slated for January, but the electoral law was vetoed by the Sunni member of Iraq’s three-member Presidency Council and was sent back to the Council of Representatives.

In a related development, the high-level task force, set up to discuss the situation in the oil-rich, ethnically mixed region of Kirkuk in northern Iraq and comprising representatives from the Iraqi Government and Kurdistan Regional Government, met again under UNAMI auspices as part of a series of regular talks.

The body called for the “very encouraging and important step” of vacating education buildings and land being occupied to be taken by Kirkuk political parties in light of the shortage of schools currently being experienced in the governorate.

It also confirmed the fight of every Iraqi child to be educated in his or her mother tongue, as well as the importance of transferring detainees to their governorate of origin and investigating the status of missing persons.




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