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Iraq: UN envoy welcomes steps to new constitution

Iraq: UN envoy welcomes Governing Council's steps towards new constitution

The top United Nations envoy in Iraq today warmly welcomed steps taken by the Iraqi Governing Council to draft a new constitution for the country and offered the world body's help.

“As a matter of principle, the SRSG strongly supports the choices freely made by the Iraqi people without any external interference during the process which will lead to the adoption of the new constitution,” said a statement by a spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative Sergio Vieira de Mello, using the initials that stand for his title.

The Governing Council yesterday set up a preparatory committee entrusted with finding the appropriate mechanism to draft a new constitution.

Wishing the preparatory committee "all success in achieving its goal in a speedy manner," Mr. Vieira de Mello said: "This work will prepare the ground for adopting a new constitution that embodies the aspirations of the Iraqi people."

He reaffirmed that the UN "will put its capabilities at the disposal of the Iraqi people, if they so request, to support the process they will choose in achieving this vital objective of drafting their new constitution."

Although established by the United States-run Coalition Provisional Authority, Mr. Vieira de Mello has endorsed the body as a valid partner for the UN, telling the Security Council last month: "We now have an institution that, while not democratically elected, can be viewed as broadly representative of the various constituencies in Iraq. It means that we now have a formal body of senior and distinguished Iraqi counterparts, with credibility and authority, with whom we can chart the way forward."

Mr. Annan has also welcomed the Governing Council as "an important step towards the full restoration of Iraqi sovereignty."

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