Global Policy Forum

Al Yawar Calls on UN to Review Election Date

January 5, 2005

Iraq's president called on the United Nations yesterday to look into whether the country should go ahead with its scheduled January 30 election despite violence threatening to scare voters away from the polls. "Definitely the United Nations, as an independent umbrella of legitimacy ... should really take the responsibility by seeing whether that [timing] is possible or not," Gazi Al Yawar said in an interview.

Iraq's interim government and its American allies have repeatedly said that the vote would not be delayed. But Al Yawar said the polls would fail if a raging insurgency kept a significant number of Sunnis away from voting stations.

"Definitely the United Nations, the party who is independent, who cannot be threatened or intimidated and who is credible in the international community, should really stand up for their responsibilities and obligations by saying whether that is possible or not," he said. "On a logical basis, there are signs that it will be a tough call to hold the election."

Insurgents have been targeting leading politicians, election workers and Iraqi security forces ahead of the polls. Al Yawar said that some members of interim government believe the polls should be delayed but did not have the authority to press for a new timetable. "For the executive branch of the government to come and call for a delay in the elections, people will start thinking that we are enjoying these positions right now and we just want to stay here," said Yawar.

Iraq's temporary constitution, endorsed by the United Nations, calls for elections to be held by end-January. The UN has said only Iraq's Independent Electoral Commission can change the poll schedule. The Commission says changing the date is a political decision that would require wide consultation.

Sunni minority fears violence will keep them away from voting while majority Shiites, long oppressed under Saddam Hussain, are poised to gain power.

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