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Peters welcomes historic Iraqi elections

Rt Hon Winston Peters Minister of Foreign Affairs

15 December 2005

Peters welcomes historic Iraqi elections

Foreign Minister Winston Peters has applauded the courage and determination of the Iraqi people in turning out to vote in today’s general election.

More than 15 million Iraqis are expected to vote for a new Council of Representatives in the first fully constitutional elections following the successful referendum on the new Iraqi Constitution in October.

“This is a historic milestone for Iraq and reflects the determination of the people to choose their own leaders despite the efforts of those seeking to undermine the process.

“The New Zealand Government commends the work of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, the United Nations and the international community, towards ensuring a free and fair electoral process.

“Insurgent groups must not be allowed to disrupt negotiations to form a new government over the coming weeks,” Mr Peters said.

A new Iraqi government, likely to be a broad-based coalition, may take several weeks to emerge following the completion of the elections. Mr Peters said it would be important that the government be fully representative of the Iraqi people, including Sunni Arabs, many of whom had serious misgivings about aspects of the new Constitution. There is an expectation that changes will be made to the Constitution to take Sunni-Arab concerns better into account.

“Looking to the future, the New Zealand Government hopes that all parties will work together to create a united, prosperous and stable Iraq for the benefit of all Iraqis,” Mr Peters said.

In a move to improve inclusiveness in the new 275-seat parliament, 45 compensatory seats will be distributed among minority parties. The United Iraqi Alliance is expected to continue as the most prominent political grouping in the new assembly. Early indications are that voter participation will be high.

The New Zealand Government has committed $1.5 million to the United Nations Development Group Iraq Trust Fund for the 2005/2006 financial year.

ENDS

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