Iraq

Iraq: Envoy reaffirms UN's commitment to constitution-writing process

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The top United Nations envoy in Iraq today met with more senior officials in his efforts to ensure that those sectors of Iraqi society left outside the recently-elected national Assembly, particularly Sunni Arabs, take part in writing the new constitution.

In discussions with Humam Hamoudi, Chairman of the Constitutional Committee of the Iraqi Transitional National Assembly and Vice Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative Ashraf Qazi encouraged a rapid conclusion to talks between the constitutional committee and those groups to allow it to begin substantive work as soon as possible.

Sunni Arabs, who represent about 20 per cent of the population, largely absented themselves from elections in January, thus securing little representation in the body drafting the new constitution.

Ever since the, Mr. Qazi has been stressing the need for full participation by all sectors in the process. Shiite Arabs, who voted enthusiastically, represent about 60 per cent of the population, while mainly Sunni Kurds, who also turned out en masse, represent about a further 20 per cent. Sunni Arabs were the dominant political force in the regime of ousted Saddam Hussein.