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Iraq Requests UN Assistance for Elections Amid UNAMI Dissolution


Iraq Seeks UN Assistance for Upcoming Elections

Sat 25 May 2024 | 09:11 PM
By Ahmad El-Assasy

Despite officially requesting the United Nations to disband its mission in Iraq (UNAMI) by the end of next year, after nearly 20 years of operation, the Iraqi government still looks towards the UN for electoral assistance.

The UN mission in Iraq has faced significant criticism over the years, particularly following widespread challenges to the results of the 2018 and 2021 elections. Nevertheless, Baghdad authorities are keen on maintaining the UN's involvement in electoral matters.

Government spokesman Basim Al-Awadi stated that the Iraqi government would request the UN to form a specialized committee for elections if UNAMI is dissolved before the scheduled parliamentary elections next year.

In May 2023, Iraq submitted a request to the UN Security Council and the Secretary-General to reduce UNAMI's mandate and conduct an objective evaluation of its work, paving the way for the mission's termination. Following this request, a strategic committee from the UN visited Iraq in November and recommended ending the mission.

Al-Awadi mentioned that the government's proposal is for the UN mission to remain until after the elections, suggesting that its final period of presence should be until the end of December 2025, a month after the general elections scheduled for November 2025.

He added that if the mission is dissolved before this date, the Iraqi government would request the UN to form a specialized committee to assist the Independent High Electoral Commission, supervise, monitor, and certify the parliamentary election results, as this is crucial for the political process and governance.

The government spokesman emphasized Iraq's continued need for UN support in human rights, climate issues, and other areas, but in a new format that does not involve a permanent presence in Iraq.

On May 10, Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani sent a letter to the UN Security Council requesting the termination of the UN mission and the transfer of all its tasks to national authorities and other international agencies by the end of next year.

Commenting on Iraq's request for UN assistance in elections, Dr. Imad Jamil, head of the media team for the Electoral Commission, noted that the Iraqi government values the UN's support in elections, particularly in training and media and legal operations.

Jamil mentioned to "Asharq Al-Awsat" that the UN's role is primarily in managing general parliamentary elections and not local elections, often bringing in election experts to conduct workshops, which, while limited in impact, can be beneficial.

He believes the UN's involvement is significant for the positive reports issued after elections, which add credibility to the electoral process in Iraq, as seen in the positive reports presented to the Security Council for the 2018 and 2021 elections.

However, some circles close to the Iraqi elections file criticize the UN's role and mission in Iraq, arguing that it offers little of value compared to the funds spent on so-called "experts," who they claim lack the expertise of Iraqi election experts.