UNITED NATIONS — The Security Council on Thursday extended by a year the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) and urged that country's leaders to speed up formation of an inclusive government.
The 15-member body unanimously adopted a resolution, sponsored by the United States, Britain, Japan and Turkey, extending the mandate of UNAMI, which expires Saturday, until July 31 2011.
It expressed its intention to review the mandate "in 12 months or sooner, if requested by the government of Iraq."
As UN chief Ban Ki-moon did Wednesday, the council also appealed to Iraq's bickering leaders to quickly form a government "that represents the will and sovereignty of the Iraqi people and their hope for a strong, independent, unified and democratic Iraq" in the wake of the March parliamentary elections.
Ex-premier Iyad Allawi's Iraqiya bloc finished first in the March 7 polls with 91 seats in the 325-member parliament, with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law alliance winning 89.
Both, however, fell short of a parliamentary majority, and negotiations over assembling a coalition with other parties appear to have stalled.
The lingering political deadlock coincides with an upsurge of extremist violence, with a total of 42 people killed Tuesday, just days after government ministries said more people died in unrest in July than in any month since May 2008.
In this connection, the council stressed that the security of UN personnel was essential for UNAMI to carry out its work and consequently called on the Iraqi government and other UN member states "to continue to provide security and logistical support to the UN presence in Iraq."
In his latest report on Iraq, Ban warned that continued delays in forming a government were fueling "a growing sense of uncertainty in the country," which, he said, "elements opposed to Iraq's democratic transition may try to exploit."
His special representative to Iraq, Ad Melkert, warned council members Wednesday that "the practical implications of the US military drawdown are now starting to affect the work" of UNAMI.
Monday, US President Barack Obama pledged that his country would end its combat mission in Iraq as scheduled on August 31 despite the recent flare-up in violence.
There are about 65,000 US soldiers currently stationed in Iraq, and Obama has ordered the force to draw down to 50,000 by September 1.
Melkert said he was in talks with the Iraqi government "to ensure that the conditions for the future UN presence are on a secure and sustainable basis."
This, he added, would require the finalization of the UN-Iraq status of mission agreement and an increase in the UN's own security and operational capacity involving aviation, transport and infrastructure.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »