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Iraq: UN envoy hails Governing Council

Iraq: UN envoy hails Governing Council, pledges support on long road to recovery

Secretary-General Kofi Annan's senior envoy to Iraq today hailed the formation of the country's new Governing Council and pledged the United Nations' full support on the long road to recovery.

Speaking at a ceremony in Baghdad, Special Representative Sergio Vieira de Mello said the world body is committed assisting "all Iraqis in any way that we can."

"We are here, in whatever for you wish, for as long as you want us," the envoy added.

The convening of the Governing Council, he said, "marks the first major development towards the restoration of Iraq's rightful status as a fully sovereign State" and brings the country "one step closer towards fulfilling the explicit wish of the Security Council which, in its resolution 1483, resolved that the day when Iraqis govern themselves must come quickly."

While hailing the prevailing spirit of consensus which paved the way for the Governing Council's formation, Mr. Vieira de Mello cautioned that much "daunting" work lies ahead. "The reconstruction and recovery tasks facing this country are immense, and must be supported by all," he said.

Elaborating on the challenges at hand, he cited restoring basic services, reviving the economy, finding jobs for the unemployed, re-establishing law and order, rebuilding the police force and reforming the justice system.

The envoy also underscored the need to promote the full range of human rights in Iraq. "For too long these rights have been trampled on by those who have shown nothing but disdain for the dignity of the human being," he said. "This must not be allowed to happen again."

In addition, Mr. Vieira de Mello called for attention to the plight of those who had been forced to flee the country. "Iraqis living in exile must not be forgotten: those who wish to return home – and many have been denied that opportunity for too long – need also be accommodated in this great land," he said.

On the political front, the Special Representative emphasized the importance of holding elections. "The voices of all Iraqis, men and women, must be heard as you shape your country for the future," he said, adding that a constitution must be written to serve "all the many varied peoples and regions of this nation, rich and united in its diversity."

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