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Iraq: Calls for inclusive govt to end violence

Iraq: Annan calls for inclusive government to end sectarian violence

Voicing grave concern over sectarian violence in Iraq, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called for a fully inclusive government and an end to mass detention, torture and extrajudicial killings, pledging full United Nations support for such efforts to bring peace and stability to the violence-torn country.

“As demonstrated by the heinous bombing of the shrine of Imams Al-Hadi and Al-Askari in Samarra and its aftermath, sectarian violence has emerged as a main threat to the security and stability of Iraq,” Mr. Annan states of the most recent bloodbath in his latest report on the country to the Security Council.

“The need for sustained intercommunal dialogue and confidence-building measures to promote national reconciliation is all the more urgent now. The United Nations will continue to do everything possible to support such efforts,” he says, adding that with the recent national elections Iraq has now met all the technical benchmarks of its transition after Saddam Hussein’s regime was ousted by the United States-led invasion of 2003.

He also underlines the need for a dedicated protection force to enable the UN to carry out its manifold political and humanitarian activities in a country where terrorists bombed its Baghdad headquarters in 2003, killing Special Representative Sergio Vieira de Mello and 22 others, and he calls for a new integrated UN complex in Iraq. After the bomb attack many operations were moved to Amman, capital of neighbouring Jordan.

Noting that the elections resulted in a new Council of Representatives broadly representative of Iraq’s communities and including a substantial percentage of women, Mr. Annan calls on the parties to “work with resolve towards the early formation of a fully inclusive Government, which remains a major challenge.”

He stresses that while political facilitation will remain a priority in 2006 for the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), set up in 2003 to help in the transition from Saddam Hussein’s regime, activities in other key areas of its mandate, particularly reconstruction and development, will be strengthened.

“One of the key priorities of the new Government of Iraq will be tangible improvement of the quality of life for all Iraqis,” he says. “Ultimately, the best way to address the security situation, beyond the training of Iraqi security forces, is to ensure a credible and inclusive political process and rapid improvement in the basic living conditions of the Iraqi people.”

Mr. Annan underscores the imperative of improving the human rights situation, following a UN report on mass detention, torture and extrajudicial killings, stressing that the US-led Multinational Force and Iraqi security forces have a particular responsibility to act in full accordance with international humanitarian and human rights law.

“There is a need for further measures to ensure that both past and present abuses are dealt with on the basis of the rule of law and in accordance with international obligations,” he writes. “Without an improvement in the human rights situation, the development of mutual trust and national reconciliation efforts will prove elusive.”

On UN security in the country he says staff members remain at risk of becoming targets of violence and their safety remains the Mission’s overarching guiding principle.

“I look forward to continuing engagement with Member States on the practical steps that need to be taken to provide UNAMI with the necessary level of support to fulfil the long-term commitment of the United Nations to supporting the people of Iraq. The development of a new integrated United Nations complex in Iraq will be essential in this regard,” he writes.

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