United Nations, Feb 17 (IANS) The top UN envoy for Iraq called for a free and safe environment for elections in Iraq scheduled for October 2021.
For credible elections to take place, it is imperative that parties and candidates operate in a free and safe environment. The same goes for members of the media. In this regard, recent incidents are highly troubling — to say the least, said Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the UN secretary-general’s special representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq on Tuesday, Xinhua news agency reported.
“I call on all parties, stakeholders and authorities to come together, to agree on a ‘code of conduct’ and to allow all Iraqi candidates to operate freely — irrespective of ethnicity, gender, language, religion, belief or background,” she told the Security Council in a briefing.
Any Iraqi who wishes to participate in these elections, as a candidate or campaigner, must be able to do so without fear of intimidation, attack, abduction or assassination. And it goes without saying: voters must feel entirely free to choose their preferred candidate, she said.
The Iraqi Council of Ministers, in consultation with the Independent High Electoral Commission, has decided on a new date for Iraq’s elections: October 10, 2021 — four months later than originally planned. Parliament has passed the legislation necessary to finance the elections, and countrywide registration of candidates and alliances, as well as voter registration updates, are under way, she noted.
However, she said, parliament has not yet finalized the outstanding Federal Supreme Court Law. As this court certifies election results, further delays cannot be accepted.
Hennis-Plasschaert asked the Security Council to make a decision on electoral observation in Iraq as soon as possible.
“A request from the government of Iraq for electoral observation is currently before this council. I understand that a decision has not yet been made. But I would like to take this opportunity to emphasize the importance and also urgency of obtaining clarity.”
“In this all-important election year, I am hopeful that Iraqis can continue to count on the council’s steadfast support and solidarity,” said Hennis-Plasschaert.