UN envoy ‘guardedly optimistic’ that elections in Iraq can take place on schedule
Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative Ashraf Qazi said he hopes the country’s interim Government will take a number of outreach measures with a range of people with whom it has so far not engaged in order to improve security.
“Hopefully that will contribute to an alleviation of the current tensions and bring about an improvement in the security environment which will be essential for the electoral process to be feasible and on schedule,” Mr. Qazi told UN Radio yesterday in Sharm el-Sheikh, where he attended an international conference on Iraq.
“Considering all these efforts which hopefully will be taking place, we are guardedly optimistic that the elections will take place on time and will be credible in the eyes of the Iraqi people, which is an essential condition for it to be effective in advancing the transition process,” he added.
Asked about criticism of the UN for refusing to send in more international staff to help the process along, Mr. Qazi said security had to be the major consideration in assessing the world organization’s ability to serve in Iraq, where a terrorist bomb last year killed top UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 others.
“We have to have security as the uppermost guiding principle at all times because the Secretary General is responsible for the safety of people, the international staff and indeed the national staff, all who work for the United Nations all over the world,” he declared.
“God forbid were any tragedy to be visited upon us, that could seriously set back the ability of the United Nations to implement any mandate with regard to Iraq. So it is absolutely essential to our ability to be of service to Iraq that we keep security considerations uppermost in mind.”
Listen to UN Radio report [03 mins]