Iraq

Annan cites extensive work by UN mission in Iraq, requests mandate extension

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Citing the efforts the expanding United Nations Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) has made to help Iraqis meet the benchmarks in their political transition, despite severe operational and security constraints, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has asked the Security Council to extend the mission's mandate until August of next year.

In a letter to the Council released today, Mr. Annan said UNAMI, having resumed operations inside Iraq in August of last year, now comprises 260 civilian and military personnel based in Iraq and that number is expected to rise further this year with the use of new facilities in Erbil and Basra.

The UN mission headquarters in Iraq's capital, Baghdad, was blown apart by a massive truck bomb in August 2003, killing 22 staff members and injuring dozens more. Most international staff members were withdrawn for some time.

In accordance with a Council resolution, he said, "UNAMI has endeavoured to play a leading role to help Iraq meet each benchmark of its political transition process, including by assisting, during the summer of 2004, in the convening of a national conference to select a Consultative Council."

It also advised and supported the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, the Interim Government of Iraq and the Transitional National Assembly in preparing for elections and it promoted national dialogue and consensus-building on the drafting of the national constitution, Mr. Annan said.

The mission has also advised the Government on developing civil and social services, delivering various forms of assistance and helping promote human rights protection, national reconciliation, judicial and legal reform and an eventual census, he said.

The Secretary-General recommended that the Council extend the UN Mission's mandate, which is currently scheduled to expire next Friday, for a further period of 12 months.

The Security Council plans to discuss Iraq next Tuesday.

Mr. Annan said that if the Iraqi Government so requested the UN stood ready to continue to assist the Government and people, with constitutional and electoral support remaining available, as well as assistance in the reconstruction, development and humanitarian areas.

"Needless to say, adequate support, resources and expertise will be required for UNAMI to continue to implement its mandated tasks," he said, adding that he hoped the spirit of international cooperation shown at the Brussels Conference on Iraq in June would translate into increased support for UN efforts inside Iraq.