Iraq: UN official expresses concern about status of election laws

12 October 2009

The senior United Nations envoy in Iraq has voiced concern about the country’s election laws, saying they lack clarity just three months before parliamentary polls are slated to be held.

Ad Melkert, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and the head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), issued a statement yesterday in which he called on Iraq’s Council of Representatives to revise the legal framework for the elections.

“Holding parliamentary elections on 16 January appears to be something that is strongly desired by the people of Iraq, will be a vital milestone for Iraq’s democratization process, and called for by the Iraq constitution,” he said, according to a press release issued by UNAMI in Baghdad.

Last week the Council of Representatives delayed a decision on the election laws amid disagreement over several aspects of proposed amendments and a desire of some parliamentary members to evaluate the performance of the Independent High Election Commission (IHEC), which is tasked with staging the polls.

But Mr. Melkert said the evaluation of IHEC’s performance since 2008 should not be undertaken until after the results of next January’s elections are announced.

“UNAMI believes that significant changes to the institutional set-up in IHEC would severely disrupt the ongoing electoral preparations to the point that it would not be possible to hold credible elections until a considerably later date.”

Mr. Melkert stressed that he is optimistic that IHEC can organize credible elections in January “that will be broadly accepted by all political factions and the Iraqi voters.”

But he added that preparations will have to be accelerated in several areas for this to be achieved and the Government also needs to step up its support of IHEC.


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