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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN envoy continues efforts to ensure Sunni Arab inclusion in Iraqi transition

23 March 2005 Moving ahead with his efforts to ensure that all elements of Iraqi society take part in writing a new constitution after Sunni Arabs largely stayed away from January's elections, the top United Nations envoy in the country met today with Sheikh Harith al-Dhari, President of the Association of Muslim Scholars, a Sunni group.

During the talks, which were the latest in eight weeks of continuous dialogue that Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative Ashraf Qazi has held across the political spectrum, the envoy reiterated that the UN remains committed to helping the Iraqi people through the transitional period in political, humanitarian and human rights areas.

He underlined the need for all Iraqi political forces to join in writing the new constitution, which will be drafted by the Transitional National Assembly elected on 30 January and put to a vote in a public referendum towards the end of the year.

By not voting in the elections, either due to boycott calls, intimidation or fear of violence, Sunni Arabs will have very little presence in the Assembly. Shiite Arabs, who voted enthusiastically, represent about 60 per cent of the electorate, while Sunni Arabs and mainly Sunni Kurds, who also turned out en masse, represent about 20 per cent each.

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