UN envoy underscores importance of credible elections in Iraq

Source: Xinhua| 2018-02-21 07:41:54|Editor: Xiang Bo
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UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- The UN secretary-general's special representative for Iraq on Tuesday stressed the importance of the parliamentary elections in the country scheduled for May 12.

"Credible and acceptable elections with high voter turnout, including in the liberated areas and in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and with specific measures to facilitate women's participation, will empower the new government to implement reforms, improve accountability and promote inclusiveness and reconciliation between different components and groups on Iraq," Jan Kubis told the Security Council.

Many of Iraq's political forces decided to form cross-sectarian, cross-ethnic coalitions across the political spectrum, he said.

The Independent High Electoral Commission has registered 205 political parties, and 27 political coalitions are approved to contest in the elections, he noted.

It is essential that the elections will confirm the vision of Iraqis working together across the sectarian and ethnic divides in pursuing the needed political, economic and social reforms based on the principles of citizenship with equal rights, justice and opportunity for all and good governance, he said.

"Only a new government based on such an approach will guarantee the future of Iraq as a united, democratic, fully sovereign and independent federal state, as a factor of stability, cooperation and prosperity for its people and for the region."

Kubis, who is also head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, cautioned that a number of challenges remain.

The voluntary and dignified return of internally displaces persons (IDPs) is an issue critical for the success and credibility of the elections, he noted. In the months ahead, the government expects as many as 2 million of the 2.5 million IDPs will return home.

Providing a security environment by the Iraqi security forces, which enables voters to exercise their right to vote in safety, free from terror, fear or intimidation, is an overriding concern, said Kubis.

Although the Islamic State terrorist group has been defeated, the organization and its sleeper cells continue to post a threat, he warned.

In addition, the new electronic ballot counting system, including the customization and development of the software for results tabulation continues to be a work in progress and requires accelerated support, he said.

Observation of the elections, both domestic and international, will be a vital component in fostering credibility and acceptance of the results, said Kubis.