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As Annan stresses inclusiveness after Iraqi elections, top UN envoy meets leaders

As Annan stresses inclusiveness after Iraqi elections, top UN envoy meets leaders

With United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan declaring that the success of Sunday’s elections augurs well for Iraq’s transition, his top representative in the country today met with leading politicians to stress the need to bring all Iraqis together in shaping the future of their nation.

Noting reports that, despite significant attempts at violent disruption, Iraqis turned out in large numbers to exercise their right to vote, Mr. Annan praised the courage of the Iraqi people, lauded the Independent Election Commission of Iraq (IECI) for running the poll “so effectively in such a limited timeframe and such daunting circumstances,” and congratulated UN officials who helped organize the elections.

Mr. Annan, who is travelling in West Africa, spoke by phone with United States President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today after conferring with Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

“It is important to ensure that all individuals, groups and parties who, for whatever reason, were unable or unwilling to take part in the election are now brought into the constitution-making process,” Mr. Annan said in a message issued shortly after the polls closed Sunday.

“This is a time for reconciliation on all sides. In this respect I am encouraged by the recent statements of a number of Iraqi political leaders, indicating their willingness to play a part in this process or to allow others to do so,” he added.

This was just the message that his Special Representative Ashraf Qazi delivered in person on the ground Monday, visiting the electoral commission’s headquarters in Baghdad and meeting with various officials including the Vice President, and President of the Al Da’wa Party, Ibrahim Jaa’fary, Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh and the Head of Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution Abdul Aziz al Hakim.

He also held talks with the President of the Association of Muslim Scholars Hareth al Dhari and President of the Iraqi Islamist Party Muhsen Abdul Hamid.

Mr. Qazi stressed that the elections represented an important step in the political process that must bring all Iraqis together in shaping the future of their country.

He emphasized the importance of encouraging a broad based dialogue among all Iraqi political forces as the best way to address difference in points of view. He stressed that all Iraqis must be represented in the political process, especially in the constitution making process, to ensure that it realizes its objective of building a safe, stable and democratic Iraq.

Mr. Qazi added that the UN stands ready to support Iraqis in the post-elections period and is willing to avail its expertise to the Iraqis in the constitution making process if the Iraqi authorities seek its help. The National Assembly elected yesterday will appoint a new provisional government, write a constitution and organize definitive elections by the end of the year.

The UN acted in an advisory and technical role to help the IECI deliver credible and inclusive elections, disbursing more than $100 million from a UN Elections Trust Fund to help organize the vote and coordinate the assistance of the international community.