The top United Nations envoy in Iraq today condemned in the strongest terms the third assassination of a political figure in the country in the past three weeks, calling on the Government to guarantee safe and democratic campaign for provincial elections slated to be held at the end of this month.
The Secretary-General’s Special Represenative Staffan de Mistura expressed deep sorrow over the death of Sheikh Hassan Zaidan al-Luhaibi, who, along with family members, was killed yesterday by a suicide bomber in Nineveh province.
“To carry a bomb into the guest house of an Iraqi dignitary and to detonate it, killing him and two of his relatives, is an appalling act that deserves the strongest condemnation,” said Mr. de Mistura, who is also the the head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).
On Friday, Haytham al-Husseini, a candidate for the Dawlat al-Qanoon (State of Law) list was killed in an armed attack northeast of the city of Hilla in Babel province.
The incident also comes just two weeks after Mowaffaq al-Hamdani, a candidate on the “Iraq for Us” list was shot dead in a café in the northern city of Mosul.
Following the attack on Mr. al-Hamdani, the Special Representative had stressed that campaign violence must not be allowed to intimidate candidates or interfere with the right of every Iraqi to exercise their vote on 31 January.
The UN is assisting Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), which is responsible for preparing and conducting elections, beginning with the provincial polls at the end of this month and culminating with parliamentary elections in 2009-2010.
In a related development, UNAMI helped to convene a national legislative workshop last week on the ratification and implementation of international treaties to combat terrorism.
Representatives from the Human Rights, Defense and Legal Committees of the Council of Representatives (CoR) attended the two-day gathering and agreed to form a joint working committee to advance the ratification process of the remaining legal conventions against terrorism not ratified by Iraq to date and to discuss and propose amendments to the current anti-terrorism law.
“The key lesson is that terrorism can only be addressed through rule of law principles and through the implementation of laws that fully respect Human Rights,” Mr. de Mistura told CoR members in his opening remarks, stressing that they are in a unique position to take the lead in that effort.
The workshop, held on 14 and 15 January, was held by UNAMI’s Human Rights Office and the UN Office for Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), with the support of the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS).
According to UNODC, Iraq has ratified five of the 16 international treaties against terrorism, including four conventions countering violent acts against air traffic and the 1973 pact on the prevention and punishment of crimes against diplomats and other internationally-protected persons.