UN Radio Restoring Sovereignty to Iraqis is Urgent
UN Radio: Restoring Sovereignty to Iraqis is Urgent
Restoring Effective Sovereignty to Iraqis Urgent: Annan The task of restoring the effective exercise of sovereignty to Iraqis, in the form of a provisional government, is urgent. Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Security Council Tuesday that while there may not be time to organize free, fair and credible elections for this purpose, it is essential that the process leading to the formation of a provisional government is fully inclusive and transparent:
"Every segment of Iraqi society should feel represented in the nascent institutions of their country. None should feel excluded, pending the subsequent holding of free elections for a constituent assembly and parliament. Iraqis must have real ownership of the process by which they are governed."
Mr. Annan said the United Nations is ready to play its full part in helping Iraqis resume control of their destiny and build a better future.
Iraqi Official Outlines Timetable for Full Sovereignty
An Iraqi official Tuesday outlined a timetable leading to elections and the formation of a transitional administration. Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari told the Security Council that the timetable includes approval of a Fundamental Law on February 28 to decide on dates for elections and a mandate for the transitional government to be set up by next June when the Coalition Provisional Authority and the 24-member Iraqi Governing Council would be dissolved. He said these would be accomplished prior to drawing up a permanent constitution:
"The key elements include provisions for human rights and guarantees of freedoms, a federal structure for Iraq, civilian control of Iraqi armed forces, judicial independence and a timetable for drafting and ratifying Iraq's new constitution and holding direct elections."
The Security Council was meeting to discuss the plan for the US-led coalition to hand over power to Iraqis by the end of June. The timetable was requested by the Security Council.
Annan: We Have Lots of Work to Do to Help the Iraqi People
Moments ago, the Secretary-General emerged from closed door discussions in the Security Council and told reporters that if the Governing Council wanted the UN to play a role in the immediate transitional arrangements, there has to be clarity as to exactly what they would want the UN to do. The Secretary-General was asked whether the UN would go back to Iraq if it were guaranteed improved security:
"I think we have made it clear that once the security situation improves we would be ready top return in larger numbers and that has always been our position. We have lots of work to do to help the Iraqi people; we have lots of work to do in the area of humanitarian reconstruction and the political process and so we are ready."
UN Mission Tightens Security along Sierra Leone/Liberia Border
The United Nations has beefed up security along Sierra Leone's border to prevent arms smuggling during the suspended disarmament process in neighbouring Liberia. A spokesman for the UN mission in Sierra Leone said the increased patrols are being done in collaboration with the Sierra Leone army and police. He said military officials believe that with the disarmament in Liberia, some of the ex-combatants may not be willing to surrender their weapons and are likely to cross over into Sierra Leone. The UN mission in Liberia announced Monday that it will postpone its week-old campaign to disarm combatants from the country's civil wars to improve and expand the cantonment sites.
UNHCR Evacuates Staff from Western Ethiopia
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has evacuated its staff from western Ethiopia following violence that has left 30 people dead, including three employees of an organization that works with UNHCR. Spokesman Kris Janowski says the violence has led to an extremely tense situation in the area:
"…unleashing a spiral of violence between ethnic groups, which has left an estimated 30 people dead and many more homeless after scores of homes were torched in what appeared to be reprisal attacks."
Janowski says Ethiopian government officials have arrived in the area to negotiate an end to the attacks.
Sean Connery Joins Fight against Global
Hunger Movie legend Sean Connery is adding his voice to
a campaign against global hunger. Connery is to appear in a
holiday season TV ad to promote the work of the UN food
agency -the World Food Programme. In the ad, the actor
delivers a message following footage showing how the agency
transports food to hungry people in remote areas around the
world. Connery became famous in the 1960's for his role as a
British secret agent - James Bond.