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Iraqi election law must provide for rights of minorities, says UN envoy

2 October 2008 -The top United Nations official in Iraq has called on the country's legislature to reinstate a provision regarding the rights of minority communities into the provincial election law passed last week, stressing that protecting those rights is fundamental to a democratic Iraq.

"Article 50 is a strong indication Iraq is a nation ready to protect the political rights of minorities as founded in the Constitution," said Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Iraq.

"I was surprised and disappointed that Article 50 was not included in the provincial election law," added Mr. de Mistura, who is also head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

He reiterated that UNAMI will continue its consultations with political leaders and minority groups to ensure that Article 50 can now be reintroduced into the Council of Representatives when it resumes after Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

"Article 50 has the backing of minority groups, political blocs and UNAMI and should now be reinstated into the legislation as soon as possible so minorities can participate in the upcoming elections to be held sometime before 31 January 2009," Mr. de Mistura said.

The Special Representative called for reintroducing Article 50 into the law no later than 15 October, when the Independent High Electoral Commission opens candidate nomination.

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