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Interview with special representative of UN Secretary-General for Iraq on Iraqi elections

In an interview with Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) Bestoon Khalid discussed Iraq’s upcoming elections, the enduring threat of the Islamic State (ISIS), and Turkey’s conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

According to the chief, UNAMI's efforts are currently focused on ensuring the elections are credible and fraud-free.

“It’s of the greatest importance that credible elections take place, in time to make sure that Iraq can move beyond the elections to implement reforms and to get things done,” she said, adding that UNAMI’s role is to help Iraqi authorities ensure the elections run smoothly, and in a transparent and credible way. UNAMI is also deploying electoral observers “to make sure that elections will take place in the way it was intended and spelled out in the electoral law.” “I cannot predict whether the elections will take place without fraud. What I do know, is that now all our efforts, but also the efforts of many Iraqi authorities are focused on preventing fraud and to make sure that the elections will take place in the most credible way,” she added. Iraq will hold parliamentary elections in October, a year ahead of schedule. An early vote was one of the demands of anti-government protesters who took to the streets in 2019. But after assassinations of leading activists, the government’s failure to hold the murderers responsible, and rampant corruption, there have been numerous calls for boycotts.

The UNAMI head spoke of the ongoing threat posed by the Islamic State (ISIS), also known by its Arabic acronym Daesh.

“Daesh is still a problem. They do not have, as we saw a few years ago, they do not occupy territory but they are still there and still able to launch attacks, and their ideology is still out there.”

Hennis-Plasschaert also condemned the frequent rocket drone attacks across Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, saying “no attack can be justified.”

“We can only urge authorities to make sure that armed groups and perpetrators of these attacks are identified and are being held accountable,” she said.

On the Turkey-PKK conflict, which has emptied hundreds of villages in the Kurdistan Region, Hennis-Plasschaert said “dialogue is the only way forward.”

“Iraq should not be used as an arena for different power competitions.”


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