Friday, January 14, 2005

US govt. / UN roundup

The upcoming elections in Iraq are not a “pivotal point” -- but they are the beginning of a process moving toward constitutional government, according to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. The violence is likely to continue long after the January 30 elections, Armitage told National Public Radio’s (NPR) Morning Edition January 14. He went on to say that different ethnic and religious communities within the country have resisted being drawn into civil war. “I think that shows the vast majority of Iraqis consider themselves Iraqis first and then Shia or Sunni or Turkoman or Chaldean or Syrian or Kurd latterly,” he said. (US Dept. of State)

Secretary of State Colin Powell said Iraq’s upcoming parliamentary elections are an important moment for the Iraqi people and will help to reduce the insurgency in the country. Appearing on CNN’s Larry King LIve January 13, Powell said the January 30 elections will provide Iraqis with an opportunity to “make a judgment as to what kind of leadership they want to see in the future.” “This will be their government,” Powell said, “and when it becomes their government, then they have a vested interest in it, and I think that will help us with the insurgency.” (US Dept. of State)

The progress of the Iraqi security forces in the four provinces of the north means that the election Jan. 30 "will be an election for Iraqis, run by Iraqis," a top military commander said here today. Maj. Gen. John Batiste, commander of the Army's 1st Infantry Division and the coalition's Multinational Division North-Central, told reporters here and at the Pentagon that his area is ready for elections. (US Dept. of Defense)

Troops from Multinational Force Iraq [acronym alert: MNFI] are working to ensure every Iraqi who wants to vote has the chance to do so in the Jan. 30 election. The election is "a high stakes" event for the Iraqi people and for the coalition, said a senior MNFI official. "This is the first democratic election since the state of Iraq was established in 1928," said the official. "I guess you could really say it's the first election in this part of Iraq in 5,000 years." (US Dept. of Defense)

[refresh of earlier Annan-remarks article, this time from the UN themselves] With barely two weeks left before Iraq holds elections for a provisional national assembly which will appoint a new government and write a constitution, top United Nations officials today called for the poll to be as inclusive as possible despite the adverse conditions of violence in the war-wracked country. "I have always made clear that the elections must be as inclusive as possible if, as I hope, they are to contribute positively to the political transition in Iraq," Secretary-General Kofi Annan told a news conference in Mauritius, where he attended a conference on small island developing States. (United Nations)

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