Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on Iraq’s political leaders to move quickly to form a new Government as negotiations continue on its make-up, more than two months after the country held parliamentary polls whose results were disputed.
At least 12 million people cast their votes in the 7 March elections, in which more than 6,000 candidates took part. Mr. Ban describes those polls as “broadly participatory and inclusive” in his latest report to the Security Council on the work of the UN mission in the country, known as UNAMI.
He urges political leaders to work swiftly and unite to set up a cohesive and inclusive new Government.
“These are the responsibilities that come with democracy and fall on all political entities, especially those that have won the largest number of seats… A long, drawn-out Government formation process will not serve the interests of the Iraqi people.”
Following an appeal by the State of Law coalition, a political group headed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, regarding the election results, the Electoral Judicial Panel ordered the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) to recount by hand all ballots cast in the governorate of Baghdad.
According to media reports, the recount has upheld the narrow lead of the party headed by Iyad Allawi, a former prime minister, over Mr. al-Maliki’s coalition in the 325-member Council of Representatives.
“In order not to lose time, I would encourage all political blocs to conduct negotiations on the Government formation process in parallel with the finalization of the formal electoral process,” Mr. Ban writes in the new report.
He also pledges the United Nations’ assistance, but stresses that he believes that Government formation must be an Iraqi-owned process and “free of outside interference.”
Once established, the new Government will face a host of challenges, ranging from national reconciliation, the sharing of natural resources, human rights and reconstruction, the publication says.
“The challenge is to consolidate the gains that have been made in recent years and not allow armed groups and other spoilers to exploit the situation,” it adds.
The Secretary-General cautions that if outstanding issues in the relationship between the Iraqi Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government – including control of oil resources and minority rights – remain unresolved, it “will impact negatively on the political and security situation in northern Iraq.”
Also vital for Iraq’s long-term stability is regional cooperation, he points out, calling on the country’s Government and its neighbours to resolve contentious issues, such as the return of refugees.