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Ambassador Negroponte on the Iraqi Elections

Baghdad, Iraq
January 18, 2005

Elections will be held on January 30, in line with the timeframe set out in the Transitional Administrative Law and UN Security Council Resolution 1546; opinion polls reflect that a strong majority of the Iraqi people wish to proceed with the holding of elections on schedule. The United States, along with the UN and the international community, supports the determination of Iraqis to go to the polls to chose their leaders on January 30.

Efforts to subvert the Iraqi elections are being led by those who see democracy as a threat. Terrorists, former regime members and sympathizers, and criminals who benefit from lawlessness and instability are seeking to prevent a successful election from taking place at the end of this month. This ruthless campaign of terror and intimidation is taking its toll. We and other Coalition members are working with the Iraqi leadership and Iraqi security forces to improve security, and we are confident that elections can and will be conducted successfully. The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq has developed a number of strategies for dealing with electoral procedures in areas where security conditions will prevent normal polling from taking place, to ensure that participation in the elections is inclusive.

These elections are a watershed in Iraq's political development, as they will transition the country from an appointed to an elected government. They affirm the mandate spelled out in UNSC 1546 for "free and fair elections" in Iraq, and reflect the commitment of the Interim Government of Iraq -- also spelled out in 1546 -- "to work towards a federal, democratic, pluralistic, and unified Iraq, in which there is full respect for political and human rights."

These elections represent the beginning of an historic process which is to culminate by the end of this year in an elected, full-term Iraqi government, operating under a newly-written constitution. It will be important as the process goes forward from January 30 that the Iraqi political leadership be as inclusive as possible of all of Iraq’s communities, and that the international community maintain its support for the political and economic reconstruction of Iraq.

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