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World Welcomes Voting

The world hailed Sunday's elections in Iraq while admitting that there is a great deal to do. 

Secretary-General Kofi Annan congratulated Iraqis on their election on Sunday and offered UN help in future votes and the writing of a constitution.


Annan, currently at the African Union summit in Nigeria, released a statement saying the "success of the election augurs well for the transition process."


UN election specialists helped train Iraqis for the vote, which elects a Transitional National Assembly (TNA) that will draft a permanent constitution to be approved in a referendum.


"It is important to ensure that all individuals, groups and parties who, for whatever reason, were unable or unwilling to take part in the election are now brought into the constitution-making process," Annan said.


Annan said that "this is a time for reconciliation on all sides," adding he was encouraged by recent statements of a number of Iraqi political leaders "indicating their willingness to play a part in this process or to allow others to do so."


"The United Nations stands ready to continue its electoral assistance, to facilitate vital outreach efforts, and if invited, to assist the elected TNA in its work of drafting the constitution," he said.


"I wish to pay tribute to the courage of the Iraqi people, and to congratulate the Independent Election Commission of Iraq, as well as the thousands of Iraqi election workers and monitors, on having organized and carried out elections so effectively in such a limited time-frame and such daunting circumstances," Annan said.


US President George W. Bush called Sunday's poll "a resounding success." Hours after the election was closed, Bush praised in a televised statement the bravery of Iraqis who turned out to vote despite continuing violence and intimidation.


British Prime Minister Tony Blair said there was still a great deal to do in helping grow Iraq's democracy as he hailed the Iraq elections as a success.


Also on Sunday, French government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope told French private radio Europe 1 that the high participation rate of the Iraqis in their elections is "a piece of good news" and a "success for the international community."


Bela Anda, a spokesman for German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, said: "Voter participation ... Particularly in the Kurdish and Shi'ite areas, is to be viewed as an expression of the firm resolve of the majority of Iraqis to take their country's future into their own hands."


Berlin believed that all ethnic and religious groups of the country should be associated with the political process now.


On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the election in Iraq was a "positive event" though difficult.


"This is a step in the right direction. This is a positive event," However, "the conditions in which the election was held, putting it mildly, were very difficult," Putin said.


Meanwhile, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak telephoned Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi on Sunday to congratulate him on the holding of landmark elections in Iraq, the official Mena News Agency reported.


Mubarak said he hoped this step would lead to a political participation that involves all segments of the Iraqi people and would open the door for restoring calm and stability in Iraq.


Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah expressed hope that the Iraqi elections would succeed.


He said he wished the Iraqis would be able to practice their electoral right, select their representatives and complete the electoral process without losses.


Iran's Shi'ite Muslim yesterday hailed Iraq's elections as a triumph over insurgent attacks, sensing the Shi'ite majority would win and hoping its victory would pave the way for US troops to leave the region.


(China Daily February 1, 2005)

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