The United Nations is urging Iraq’s political leaders to work together to form a new government, which is still pending five months after parliamentary elections were held, warning that further delays could impact negatively on the country’s stability, democratic transition and development.
“I am concerned that continued delays in the government formation process are contributing to a growing sense of uncertainty in the country,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes in his latest report to the Security Council.
“Not only does this risk undermining confidence in the political process, but elements opposed to Iraq’s democratic transition may try to exploit the situation,” he adds.
In early June Iraq’s highest court certified the results of the parliamentary elections held in March, in which the party headed by Iyad Allawi, a former prime minister, received more votes than the coalition led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in the 325-member Council of Representatives.
At least 12 million people cast their votes in the March polls, in which more than 6,000 candidates took part.
Mr. Ban urges all political bloc leaders to work together through an inclusive and broadly participatory process to end the present impasse. “I firmly believe that this will contribute to the country’s stability and the prospects for national reconciliation.”
Echoing the Secretary-General’s comments, his Special Representative for Iraq, Ad Melkert, said today that the process of forming a new government represents “a real test” for the country’s transition to democracy and the commitment of Iraqi leaders to adhere to the constitution.
He told a meeting of the 15-member Security Council that while continuing disagreement over who has the right to form the next government and the appointment to key posts persists, there have been some encouraging signs, such as the agreement by the main political blocs on the need for a ‘partnership government’ and the discussion of possible power-sharing arrangements.
“I believe that at this stage, government formation could benefit from the adherence to a specific timeframe as well as a collective process through which a resolution could be reached.”
Mr. Melkert, who is head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), added that a common understanding seems to have evolved last week among all political blocs over whether indeed the stage of a ‘caretaker’ government has been reached.
“While this is an issue for Iraqis to decide upon themselves, the concern is that a prolonged delay can impact on the day-to-day business of government and could affect all walks of Iraqi life,” he stated, reiterating the Secretary-General’s call for Iraqi leaders to show “a higher sense of urgency” and work together to forge an agreement through an inclusive process.
Mr. Ban noted in his report that once the government formation process has been completed, it is imperative that the new government, together with the Council of Representatives and other stakeholders, make national reconciliation a priority and begin to address the many outstanding political and constitutional challenges facing the country.
These include Arab-Kurdish relations as they relate to disputed areas, revenue-sharing, the constitutional review process, and the strengthening of institutions of governance and the rule of law.
He also voiced concern about the number of recent security incidents throughout Iraq, mainly in the north of the country and in the capital, Baghdad, including attacks against newly elected members of parliament and religious pilgrims.
The Security Council strongly urged members of the Iraqi Council of Representatives to act in accordance with the constitution, and in support of the national interest, and form an inclusive government that represents the will of the people of Iraq and their desire for a strong, independent, unified and democratic country.
“The members of the Security Council underlined their full support for UNAMI, headed by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, consistent with its mandate, to support the government formation process,” the Council said in a press statement.
The Council also condemned the recent terrorist attacks in Iraq, stressing that acts of terrorism cannot reverse the country’s progress towards peace and prosperity, which is supported by the people and Government of Iraq and the international community.