12 December 2005 Hailing the start of parliamentary elections in Iraq today, with voting being held in hospitals and detention centres and for security forces, the senior United Nations envoy pledged continued support in helping the war-torn country transform itself into a peaceful democracy.
“All Iraqis are desperate to be free of their extended nightmare, and these elections will hopefully provide them a golden opportunity to begin the process of healing the wounds and coming together to build a new Iraq in which there will be no victims,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative Ashraf Qazi said in a statement.
“Many difficult challenges lie ahead of the people of Iraq. But if they refuse to allow themselves to be divided and remain committed to peaceful and democratic ways of addressing issues they will surely overcome these challenges and they will succeed in building an Iraq that answers to all their prayers. The United Nations will be privileged to assist the valiant Iraqi people in every step of their journey.”
The vast majority of Iraqis will go to the polls on Thursday, a day that Mr. Qazi said “should be remembered with pride.”
Tomorrow, voting begins for Iraqis living abroad.
“The people of Iraq have suffered through a whole series of tragedies in recent years. There is indeed hardly an Iraqi individual or family that has not been scarred by these wounds and these elections are an opportunity to help in this healing process,” Mr. Qazi said.