The top United Nations official in Iraq today expressed his disappointment at the Government’s decision to postpone until early July Governorate Council elections in two western provinces, reportedly due to security concerns.
Polls in Anbar and Ninewa, set to have taken place along with other provincial elections on 20 April, were pushed back until 4 July.
While regretting the delay, Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, said in a news release that “I welcome the fact that the Iraqi Government is willing to review its decision, should the security situation in both provinces improve.”
Provincial elections across the country began over the weekend, with a large turnout welcomed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. According to official estimates, at least 15.5 million Iraqis are eligible to vote.
Some 8,000 candidates are reportedly vying for 378 seats on provincial councils, the elected bodies responsible for nominating governors who take charge of the provinces’ administration, finances and reconstruction projects.
The months leading up to the vote were marred by episodic violence and targeted bombings stirring some concerns that security surrounding the elections would be affected.
In a statement released by his spokesperson on Monday, Mr. Ban applauded the “courage and determination” of the Iraqi electorate “which thwarted attempts to disrupt the electoral process through a vicious campaign of assassinations of candidates, threats to electoral staff and terrorist attacks.”