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Iraqi responsibility for security & transition

UN envoy says Iraqi responsibility for security and transition crucial

Whatever happens in the next steps in Iraq's transition to democracy, in the long term it was crucial that Iraqis take ownership of the political process and the maintenance of security in their country, the top envoy of the United Nations in Iraq told the Security Council today.

"While the referendum and the elections are necessary instruments in Iraq's transition to democracy, they are only staging posts along an evolving transition," said Ashraf Qazi, Special Representative of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, as he introduced Mr. Annan's latest report on Iraq.

Other factors that would become crucial for long-term success were the development of good governance practices and regional engagement supporting the transition, he said.

Because of the importance of Iraqi ownership in the process, it was essential that the UN and other outside entities not advocate for certain outcomes in the transition, he said.

"The United Nations does not and should not take positions of questions such as the merits of the draft constitution, which lie exclusively within the sovereign political domain of the Iraqi people," he said.

The Secretary-General's report does find, however, that the draft process of the Iraqi constitution could have been more transparent and inclusive, and that the Iraqi interim Government will need to ensure that a much broader political consensus shapes the upcoming constitutional referendum and national elections.

In the report, Mr. Annan also notes that the continued atmosphere of terror and violence, as well as "a disconcerting source of human rights violations in the country," continue to threaten the democratic process.

The Security Council has already pledged to assist Iraq through the difficult process of building a democracy. Thus, despite the many difficulties, Mr. Annan pledges that the UN will provide a public education programme for the upcoming referendum and elections, and technical and capacity building assistance.

He also calls on Member States to provide the $107 million in international financial support needed to pay for the referendum and the elections that follow.

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