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In Iraq Election, 60% Turn-Out But Not in Falluja, PR Tells ICP

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 30 -- After Iraq's Permanent Representative to the UN held up his finger on April 30 to show that he had voted, Inner City Press asked him if voting had been possible in Falluja.

  No, he replied, in Falluja it was not possible, but some who lived there went and voted elsewhere. How many?

  He cited a 60% overall turn-out, and said his own 80 year old mother told him that who she voted for is none of this business. Call it a mature democracy.

 Back on March 27 after the UN's envoy to Iraq Nickolay Mladenov briefed the UN Security Council on March 27, Inner City Press asked him if the April 30 elections can go forward unless the Independent High Elections Commissioners reverse their resignations.

  Mladenov said their resignations have not yet been accepted, and that the parliament is trying to give them immunity from liability for decisions, to keep them independent.

  Inner City Press also asked about the "good reputation" standards for candidates, and one who has been disqualified. Mladenov said attempts are underway to avoid "arbitrary" disqualifications.

  The Security Council stakeout had a lot of correspondents, but not for Iraq. There was a North Korea consultation to follow, and even though the US had not circulated any draft, largely Japanese media were waiting for any summary of the meeting from Luxembourg, the Council's president for March.

  No such summarize was given on March 26, after Russia raised the issue of "terrorist" attacks on Latakia in Syria. But this NOrth Korea was a big one.  Mladenov gracefully answered three correspondents' questions, the first one generally about terrorism, and then was gone.

   Even back in January, the situation in Anbar in Iraq was deadly serious; in the UN Security Council in New York, less so.

  After the Security Council met on January 9 about Iraq, Inner City Press asked Jordan's Permanent Representative Prince Zeid, the Council president for the month, if a draft Presidential Statement had been circulated by the United States.

  Zeid replied on the Council's "continuing examination on possibility of putting something out."

  When on Friday afternoon a public meeting of the Security Council was called for 5:30 pm, it was for the agreed-to presidential statement. The UN's machinery whirled into gear: the UN Television cameras, Security officers, interpreters.

  But when the meeting started at 5:34 pm, even watching UNTV on a small screen out at the stakeout it was clear that one of the 15 seats was empty: Nigeria's.

  Since it is often said that all 15 have to be present to hold such a meeting, Inner City Press ran up to the third floor gallery to look again. Sure enough: Nigeria's seat, next to Luxembourg, was empty. Click here.

  Prince Zeid read about the Presidential Statement -- it did NOT call on the government to show restraint -- and the meeting was over.

  Iraq's Permanent Representative Mohamed Ali Alhakim came out and despite being discouraged by some from doing a public, UN televised stakeout, told Inner City Press (on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access) that he would take to the microphone.

  Inner City Press asked him what the government sees as the next steps in Falluja, given that at least some Council members have been talking about the need to show restraint, even maximum restraint.

  Mohamed Ali Alhakim replied that the government is "working with the tribes" and is hoping that the fight can take place outside of the city.

  Afterward Inner City Press asked a Council legal expert if, in fact, Nigeria was marked absent and if there was any precedent. "You saw what you saw," was the pithy answer; a precedent back in 1950 was cited. Surely there are some more recent. But this is just the first month, for the five new members.

  Since the statement was basically agreed to between the United States and Iraq and rubber stamped by the other Council members, perhaps it was fair for Nigeria to not arrive. In further fairness, there was a closed meeting down in Conference Room 1 of the "Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations," which Nigeria has chaired. Photo and snark here. We may have more on this. Watch this site.


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