Fresh from consultations at Headquarters in New York, the senior United Nations envoy for Iraq is back in Baghdad, re-immersing himself in efforts to ensure that all sectors of society take part in the political transition, especially with the task of writing a new constitution.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative Ashraf Qazi yesterday met with new Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, as well as with a senior Sunni Arab representative in a country in which Shiite Arabs form the majority. The talks focused on the quick formation of a new Government and the constitution.
Mr. Talabani was elected president earlier this month by the new Transitional National Assembly, itself chosen in elections in January, when Sunni Arabs largely absented themselves, thus securing little representation in the body that is to draft the new constitution.
Ever since, Mr. Qazi has been stressing the imperative of full participation by all sectors in the process. Shiite Arabs, who voted enthusiastically, represent about 60 per cent of the population, while mainly Sunni Kurds, who also turned out en masse, and Sunni Arabs, the dominant political force in the regime of ousted Saddam Hussein, represent about 20 per cent each.
Mr. Qazi briefed Mr. Talabani on his discussions at UN Headquarters last week and his meetings with senior officials in the region, Europe and the United States, and reviewed recent political developments with Harith Al-Dhari, Secretary-General of the Association of Muslim Scholars, a Sunni group.
In a meeting with the Iraqi Bar Association, he discussed their concerns on the constitutional process and reiterated the UN's readiness to assist if so invited. The Bar Association welcomed a UN role.