Addressing Iraq's Interim National Council, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative said today the United Nations shares its goal of holding credible elections as planned by the end of January 2005.
"Even though the number of UN staff in Iraq is small, the UN has been able to fulfil its mandate in relation to the elections," Ashraf Jehangir Qazi said.
The technical support and strategic advice of a dedicated UN team of experts have been crucial in enabling the country's Independent Electoral Commission to perform its task of organizing the elections, he said, adding that UN experts working with the Commission have also been meeting with various political entities to explain the electoral process.
Mr. Qazi told members of the Council that the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) also includes contributing to the political process. He pointed to a number of meetings he has held with government officials and representatives of political entities to encourage participation in the process, mainly the elections.
"Despite the difficult conditions, the UN is in Iraq because it is committed to serving the Iraqi people," he said.
In talks with Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, Mr. Qazi discussed the political process in Iraq, the country's security situation, human rights and efforts to achieve reconciliation, according to a UN spokesman.
Over the last few days, Mr. Qazi has held discussions with various government officials and representatives of Iraqi political parties and civil society to explore how the UN can advance the political process and encouraging dialogue among various Iraqi groups, spokesman Fred Eckhard said.