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UN lauds start of ballot printing for Iraqi polls

21 January 2010 – The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraqi (UNAMI) today congratulated Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) for kicking off the ballot process to print over 26 million ballots for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Nearly 20 types of ballots will be distributed to some 50,000 polling stations to accomodate regular voting, special needs and absentee polling for the police, military, prisoners, hospital workers and others.

Ad Melkert, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative,” lauded IHEC’s “efforts to move forward with the operational timeline despite considerable challenges along the way.”

He reiterated UNAMI’s support for the body and expressed confidence that all of the ballots will be ready for the 7 March polls, as well as for the special voting which commences three days earlier.

IHEC recently conducted a lottery to choose up to 300,000 polling staff, demonstrating “transparency and integrity in the selection and recruitment process and IHEC’s commendable efforts to keep the public and the media well-informed,” Mr. Melkert said.

UNAMI is dispatching electoral advisors to all countries where Iraqis living outside their home country will cast their ballots in the March elections.

Last month, the envoy underscored how huge inequalities and needs in some parts of the country remain a source of instability, with economic and social progress hinging on the country’s political conditions.

In this context, he expressed hope that the campaign for the nationwide elections slated for March will contribute to a “free and fair election, which will allow candidates to compete for ideas and positions.”

Mr. Melkert noted that UNAMI had played a significant role in bringing together various political actors and can achieve more in the future.

“My hope is that in the post-election period, the formation of a new government will enable consensus building around major issues that would define stability for the future and thus strong determination for economic and social programmes,” he said.

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