Iraq: UN announces new process for selecting election directors

Staffan de Mistura, Special Representative for Iraq

14 February 2008 – The top United Nations envoy to Iraq today in Bahgdad announced a process to advance the selection of the remaining eight Directors of Iraqi's governorate election offices.

Speaking to reporters at the Iraqi Parliament, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative, Staffan de Mistura, said action is critical following the passing of new legislation calling for governorate elections before 1 October.

“It is vital that all steps are taken to ensure that the Independent High Electoral Commission is in a state of readiness for future elections,” he said. “We hope by ensuring transparency and professionalism in the selection processes that this can be achieved.”

The announcement was made following concerns raised by the United Nations and many political leaders in Iraq about the way in which the previous selection of 11 of Iraq's 19 governorate election office directors were conducted in September 2007, according to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

Mr. de Mistura urged the Independent High Electoral Commission of Iraq to immediately review the qualifications, independence and performance of the 11 directors already appointed to “ensure they are election ready,” UNAMI said.

The selection of the remaining Directors will be one of a number of conditions necessary before holding elections. Others include clarifying the election law to be used and conducting a voter registration update.

At the request of Parliament's leadership, UNAMI has agreed to assist in the identification of qualified candidates who may apply for these jobs through the mission's website.

Mr. de Mistura “encouraged women and persons from all communities throughout Iraq to apply for these important jobs,” according to the mission.

The director jobs remain vacant in Ninewa, Karbala, Najaf, Diyala, Wassit, Basra, and Baghdad, where there are two offices.

Mr. de Mistura said the process should be completed in 43 days, depending on the number of interested candidates applying.

Once these directors are appointed, the Independent High Electoral Commission in Iraq should be fully operational and ready for much anticipated elections.

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