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Elections Will Be Iraq-Led, Iraqi-Owned: UN Envoy

The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, recently visited the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) in Baghdad where she emphasized that the upcoming elections will be led and owned by Iraqis themselves.

At a press conference held by IHEC after the meeting, the Special Representative commended the commission for announcing the operational schedule to hold the early general elections, which are set for 10 October.

Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert responded to questions from journalists on Iraq’s request to the UN Security Council for electoral observation. She emphasized that elections are Iraqi-owned and Iraqi-led.

“On the role of the international community and the United Nations in particular, let me emphasize that so far, we have been providing technical assistance only,” she said. Stressing that “it must be clear at all times that Iraqi elections are Iraqi-owned and Iraqi-led”, she added: “there is no such thing as the international community taking over.”

She listed the three options that can be envisaged to protect the integrity of electoral processes: supervision, monitoring and observation. In its request to the Security Council, Iraq refers to the observation option.

“Observation is the mildest form of international presence in Iraq to see what is happening on election day. This is exactly what the Iraqi government asked the Security Council.”

While awaiting the decision of the Security Council on Iraq’s request, the Special Representative explained that electoral observation is a widely known and accepted tool.

“It is just an additional safeguard to protect the integrity of the electoral process, nothing specific to Iraq, but an important one to keep weapons and money from influencing the election outcome.”

She concluded: “Whatever happens, it is an Iraqi election conducted by Iraqis and not by the international community.” Source