As constitutional referendum nears, Iraqis must be more inclusive: Annan

15 September 2005 – The draft process of the Iraqi constitution could have been more transparent and inclusive, and the Iraqi interim Government will need to ensure that a much broader political consensus shapes the upcoming constitutional referendum and national elections, according to a report released by Secretary-General Kofi Annan today.

Mr. Annan congratulates the interim Government for their efforts in creating a draft document that will be voted on by the Iraqi people on 15 October.

But, in the final days before the draft document was delivered on 28 August, there were "protracted negotiations on the draft, diversions from previously agreed procedures, as well as the decision of some groups to withhold their support for the final text," he notes in a report to the UN Security Council.

"The process could have been made more inclusive, participatory, and transparent and responsive to the needs and aspirations of the Iraqi people," he says. "Those groups that have so far stayed away from the political process need to be assured that their concerns will be addressed though national dialogue," he adds.

He also notes that the continued atmosphere of terror and violence, as well as "a disconcerting source of human rights violations in the country," continue to threaten the democratic process.

The Security Council has already pledged to assist Iraq through the difficult process of building a democracy. Thus, despite the many difficulties, Mr. Annan pledges that the UN will provide a public education programme for the upcoming referendum and elections, and technical and capacity building assistance.

He also calls on Member States to provide the $107 million in international financial support needed to pay for the referendum and the elections that follow.

In addition the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) has increased its presence in the country tenfold since August 2004, and will continue to work there with the assistance of the Multinational Force composed of personnel from Fiji, Georgia, Romania and the Republic of Korea whose main responsibility is to provide security support.

But at the same time, the Iraqi Government must ensure that its security sector continues to engage in the "appropriate and legitimate use of force…[to] protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Iraqi citizens," says Mr. Annan.

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