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Iraq: Annan Calls For Peaceful Referendum Vote

Iraq: Annan Calls For Peaceful Referendum Vote To Let People's Voice Be Heard

New York, Oct 13 2005 4:00PM

Just two days before Iraqis vote on referendum for a new constitution, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called for peace and quiet on all sides in the strife-torn country so that the voice of the people can be heard.

"In particular, I urge those who themselves refuse to participate in the political process not to deprive others of their right to do so, free from fear and intimidation," he declared in a message to the Iraqi people marking the country's National Constitution Day.

"You will have the opportunity to exercise your democratic right to accept or reject the draft text that is submitted to you. For the second time in less than a year, the future is in your hands," he added in reference to this January's national elections.

"Today is dedicated to peaceful debate and reflection on the merits of this document, so that you can make an informed decision on referendum day," he said, calling Saturday's referendum a "keystone" in the transition to democracy.

"This is the time to keep the guns quiet on all sides and to let the voices of the Iraqi people be heard," he added. "At this critical moment in Iraq's history, every vote counts."

The Secretary-General pledged that "whatever the outcome," the United Nations would continue to support the Iraqi people in building a stable, unified and prosperous country.

On the ground in Iraq, the UN has helped print 3.2 million copies of the Constitution, in Arabic, Kurdish and Turkmen. The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) is calling on all citizens to read, discuss and debate the constitution.

"The goal of all these activities is to get Iraqis to participate in shaping their country's future by appealing to their sense of citizenship," the head of the UN's Constitutional Support team, Nicholas Haysom, said in Baghdad today. "We are hoping that the UN's assistance will help Iraqis make an informed decision about their Constitution."

Several UN agencies along with the UN Electoral Assistance Division and Department of Political Affairs have been involved in assisting Iraqis to disseminate information about the constitution, explain the referendum process and encourage widespread participation in the referendum.

The Division has supported the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq to produce and distribute educational materials such as posters and pamphlets and public service advertisements have been broadcast on 13 Iraqi television stations and printed in 7 major newspapers.

ENDS

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