Iraq asks UN to monitor elections to ensure 'fair and safe voting'
Iraq's minister of foreign affairs has asked the United Nations to oversee delayed elections, following repeated allegations of interference by outside parties.
Fuad Hussein sent a letter to the UN Security Council on Wednesday asking for the general elections - now slated for October - to be monitored by international observers, to ensure they remain fair and free of outside influence.
"Talks took place over the foreign ministry collaborating with international institutions, including the UN, to support fair elections taking place and to monitor the whole process," Hussein said according to a statement from the foreign ministry
"The foreign ministry sent a letter to the UNSCR requesting international observation of the elections and is in the process of writing a second letter on the same subject."
Hussein said that the government is proceeding with "fair elections" despite being postponed to October 2021, from the original date of June.
Iraq's parliamentary term ends in 2022, but Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi pledged to hold an early vote following popular demands for a new political order.
Iraqi activists say the current sect-based quota system benefits powerful militias, corrupt cliques, and foreign powers, and that a new structure must be established to better respond to the concerns of the people.
Iran-backed militias brutally suppressed anti-government demonstrations that broke out in 2019 over falling living standards, corruption, and failing public services.
They later grew to demand the fall of the government and an end to foreign interference, particularly from Iran.
There are concerns that the elections could be delayed again due to increased instability and the election body needing more time to organise the vote.
Hussein pledged that voting will be held in a secure and fair environment, which comes after twin suicide blasts in Baghdad last week killed 32 people.
"The government is ready to fulfil all of its requirements and to provide a safe environment for conducting fair elections that meet international standards," he said.
On Wednesday, Hussein met the EU's ambassador to Baghdad Martin Huth, where the Iraqi foreign minister pledged to hold elections that comply with international standards.
"The discussion took place on the steps taken by the foreign ministry regarding communication with international organisations and the United Nations, its support for the electoral process, inviting international observers to monitor it," a statement from the foreign ministry read.
"The ministry sent a first letter to the President of the Security Council regarding the request for electoral monitoring and is in the process of sending a second letter."
Huth pledged EU support for the election, including sending an electoral observation mission to Baghdad and financial assistance.