Security Council Annan hail bravery of Iraqis who voted on constitution

“The Iraqi population showed incredible courage, going to vote in large numbers despite the security situation on the ground,” the Secretary-General told reporters at United Nations Headquarters in New York.The constitutional process should have been “an exercise that would have been totally inclusive, and pull together all the Iraqis, helping with reconciliation,” he said, adding: “Obviously, that did not happen.”Asked whether the referendum would foster change, he said it would be difficult to predict what would happen after the votes are counted. “I think your question implies, would the violence cease after this process? I don’t think we can legitimately expect that, given the facts and what we know,” he said.”But at least, they have chosen to use ballots and not bullets, and I hope this is a lesson that will auger well in the future,” the Secretary-General added.Given the “very delicate and very critical” situation in Iraq, he stressed the need to “see how things develop in the next couple of weeks or months to be able to decide which direction things are likely to go.”Mr. Annan also said the UN, which has long been pushing for reconciliation in Iraq, stands ready to help as the country prepares for national elections in December. “We will continue to assist them if they so desire,” he said.Foreign Minister Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu of Romania, which holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council this month, read a statement to the press on behalf of the members commending “the courage of the millions of Iraqis who, braving difficult conditions and the threat of violence, again demonstrated their commitment to a peaceful, democratic political process and their willingness to decide their political future through peaceful means.” In January, the Iraqis voted in national elections.He welcomed the efforts of Iraq’s Independent Electoral Commission “and the thousands of Iraqi electoral workers who made the referendum possible.” Also commended were the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) and the Iraqi Security Forces.Whatever the results of the referendum, the foreign minister said, “the next major milestone in the political process will be the national election scheduled for 15 December.” He stressed that all Iraqis should participate to ensure that the next Assembly represents the country’s full diversity. “The members of the Security Council reaffirm their support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq and for a federal, democratic, pluralistic and unified Iraq, in which there is respect for human rights,” he said.

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