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Iraq: Electoral Change Bodes Well For Minorities

Amendment To Electoral Law Bodes Well For Iraq’s Minority Communities, Says UN

New York, Nov 4 2008 10:10AM

The United Nations has welcomed the decision by the Iraqi legislature to allocate a specific number of seats for representatives of the country’s minority communities ahead provincial elections, slated to be held sometime before the end of January 2009.

“The adoption of the amendment to the electoral law should be seen as a contribution towards furthering the respect for human rights and democracy in Iraq, through the commitment of the Iraqi institutions to recognize and guarantee minority representation in their elected governing bodies,” the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) said in a news release.

The Mission did note that the amendment adopted by the Council of Representatives (CoR) does not reflect a larger number of seats for Iraqi minorities consistent with UNAMI’s original proposal.

However, UNAMI respects the Council’s decision, which was adopted by a majority of 106 votes and is binding for the current elections.

The Mission also notes that the timing of the vote will allow for the inclusion of minority candidates in the Independent High Electoral Commission’s ballot lottery.

“UNAMI hopes that the Presidency Council will therefore expeditiously ratify the decision approved by the CoR. This will allow IHEC to abide by operational timelines for the holding of the provincial elections within the mandated deadline of 31 January 2009.”

Last month the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq and head of UNAMI, Staffan de Mistura, called on the Council of Representatives to reinstate the provision on minority rights into the newly-approved provincial election law, stressing that protecting those rights is fundamental to a democratic Iraq.

ENDS

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