The top United Nations envoy in Iraq today welcomed the signing of an electoral Code of Conduct by the main political blocs ahead of next month`s polls, calling on all parties and candidates who have yet to do so to join the initiative.
Signing on to the Code, said Ad Melkert, the Secretary-General`s Special Representative, reflects parties` commitment to free competition and dialogue for the 7 March Council of Representatives election.
Of critical importance for the UN is the political context in which the elections campaigns are held, " he underscored in a press release issued by the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) in the capital, Baghdad.
The official stressed that it is essential that all candidates and communities be given equal opportunities and be treated with respect in all states of the electoral process.
Further, he said, they have the right to vote and to be elected, free of any human rights violations, such as pressure, intimidation, violence or libel.
Addressing the Security Council on Tuesday, Mr. Melkert cited the huge collective effort " " with UNAMI taking part " that has put in place the infrastructure to allow some 18.9 million Iraqi voters to visit 48,000 polling stations on election day and noted that security is of vital consideration " both for the integrity of the polls and voter confidence.
The mission has already helped in three previous polls in Iraq.
Generally speaking, I should say that the elections are on track in terms of their technical preparation. Still, a lot needs to be done. Security remains a big challenge to all, to the Iraqis in the first place, but also to the international community, " he told reporters after his briefing.
In his latest report on the country, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote that next month`s elections offer Iraqis the chance to move beyond the bloody conflict of the past seven years towards long-term political and economic stability, but armed groups may repeat their recent high-profile attacks to disrupt the process.
I appeal to the people of Iraq not to be deterred, in the face of these and other criminal acts, from exercising their democratic rights, " he said, citing among other attacks the coordinated series of suicide bombings in Baghdad in December in which scores of civilians were killed and injured immediately after the successful adoption of the electoral law.
I also urge the Government of Iraq and its security forces to redouble efforts in the lead-up to the elections to ensure that the elections are as peaceful as possible, " he adds, stressing that every effort must be made to ensure that the poll is broadly participatory and as inclusive as possible.
A credible election process will greatly contribute to national reconciliation and give Iraqi leaders a new impetus to work together in a spirit of national unity to rebuild their country after years of conflict. It will also serve to strengthen Iraq`s sovereignty and independence at this key juncture in Iraq`s history as the United States prepares to draw down its military presence. "