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Iraq: Use Of 'Ballots Not Bullets' Bodes Well

Iraq: Annan Voices Hope That Use Of 'Ballots Not Bullets' Bodes Well For Future

New York, Oct 17 2005

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today praised the bravery of the Iraqi people for voting in Saturday's constitutional referendum and voiced hope that their use of "ballots not bullets" would bode well for the future.

"The Iraqi population showed incredible courage, going to vote in large numbers despite the security situation on the ground," he told reporters at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The constitutional process should have been "an exercise that would have been totally inclusive, and pull together all the Iraqis, helping with reconciliation," he said, adding: "Obviously, that did not happen."

Asked whether the referendum would foster change, he said it would be difficult to predict what would happen after the votes are counted. "I think your question implies, would the violence cease after this process? I don't think we can legitimately expect that, given the facts and what we know," he said.

"But at least, they have chosen to use ballots and not bullets, and I hope this is a lesson that will auger well in the future," the Secretary-General added.

Given the "very delicate and very critical" situation in Iraq, he stressed the need to "see how things develop in the next couple of weeks or months to be able to decide which direction things are likely to go."

Mr. Annan also said the UN, which has long been pushing for reconciliation in Iraq, stands ready to help as the country prepares for national elections in December. "We will continue to assist them if they so desire," he said.

ENDS

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