Middle East News
UN mission in Iraq receives new one-year mandate (Roundup)
Aug 7, 2008, 21:10 GMT
New York - The UN Security Council extended Thursday the mandate of its mission in Iraq another year so it can assist the Iraqi government in attaining democratic reform, national reconciliation and reconstruction of the war-torn nation.
The 15-nation council unanimously approved the new mandate, which came at a time the parliament in Baghdad was unable to agree on a new set of electoral law to further the democratic process.
The mission has in the past year expanded its presence in several Iraqi cities with an increased staff, which now comprises 300 international and 300 local personnel in addition to security units.
The new mandate will expire next August 6. Baghdad has recently allocated a parcel of land for the construction of a new UN headquarters in Iraq.
The council called on Baghdad and other UN members to continue to provide security and logistics to the UN mission in Iraq (UNAMI).
UNAMI said Thursday it stands ready to help Baghdad's parliament complete a set of electoral laws after it failed to reach an agreement before adjourning for the summer.
Iraqi legislators and political parties did not agree on Wednesday on the law, which may affect the holding of provincial elections in October. The electoral law was aimed at consolidating gains in establishing stronger security through the electoral process.
UNAMI has been helping Iraq train thousands of Iraqis to handle voter registration and set up more voting centres nationwide.
UN spokeswoman Michelle Montas said at UN headquarters that UNAMI 'stands ready to assist the parties in finding an agreement through the work of the parliamentarian committee.'
She said the UN had been urging the parliament and political parties to accept a compromise on the electoral law as soon as possible.
The United States also had been urging the Iraqis to agree on the law, hoping that it would prevent new outbreaks of violence. The planned October provincial elections would be the first in four years.
The last elections were boycotted by Arab Sunnis, who were a minority in the Shiite-controlled Baghdad government.
UN Undersecretary General for Political Affairs B Lynn Pascoe told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that UNAMI in the past year had been striving to implement its mandate of assisting Iraq's political dialogue, national reconciliation and the resolution of disputed internal boundaries, as well as preparing the Iraqis for provincial elections.
'Without new electoral legislation, however, these critical governate elections cannot go forward,' Pascoe said, warning of the deadlock in the Iraqi parliament.
'The UN has been doing all it can to urge practical compromise,' he said, adding that failure to adopt the new electoral law would result in a 'major setback ... for the larger process of national reconciliation in Iraq.'