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New Iraqi Government is important step in transition, says Annan

New Iraqi Government is important step in transition, says Annan

Annan (R) with Jalal Talabani (file photo)
The United Nations today welcomed the formation of the new Iraqi Government as an important step in the country's democratic transition and reiterated its call for the participation of all sectors in the political process after Sunni Arabs stayed away from the recent elections that elected the transitional National Assembly.

“The United Nations is committed to doing everything possible to assist Iraq to move forward to the next phase of its political transition, particularly the drafting of a new constitution and the holding of a referendum and national elections,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a statement issued by his spokesman.

“The Secretary-General notes the ongoing efforts to ensure that the new Government is as representative and inclusive as possible, and hopes that these efforts meet the expectations of all of Iraq’s communities,” the statement added.

Mr. Annan’s Special Representative for Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, also stressed the importance of inclusiveness.

“The UN encourages all Iraqis to come together and to make the success of Iraq’s historic transition to a united and prosperous constitutional democracy their highest priority,” he said, adding that the ground had now been prepared for the constitution making process, which is expected to be completed by 15 August and put to a referendum on 15 October.

Ever since the 30 January elections, when the Sunni Arabs’ absence assured them scant representation in the Assembly that is to write the new constitution, Mr. Qazi has been meeting with a wide spectrum of Iraqi figures in an effort to secure full participation by all sectors in the transition.

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 leader Saddam Hussein, represent about 20 per cent each.

Mr. Qazi is to represent the UN at a two-day meeting of Foreign Ministers from Iraq’s neighbours this week in Istanbul to discuss the latest political developments.