UNITED NATIONS, April 30 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council on Wednesday welcomed the parliamentary elections in Iraq and called on all political entities in the Middle East country to ensure a smooth transition in order to form a new government that represents the will of all the Iraqi people.
"The members of the Security Council welcome the holding of timely parliamentary elections in Iraq on 30 April, and commend the people of Iraq for demonstrating their commitment to a peaceful, inclusive and democratic political process," the Security Council said in a statement read out here by Nigerian permanent representative to the United Nations U. Joy Ogwu, who holds the rotating council presidency for April.
"The members of the Security Council call on all political entities to work together in an inclusive and timely political process aimed at strengthening Iraq's national unity, sovereignty and independence; and for Iraq's leaders to engage, as quickly as possible, to form a government that represents the will and sovereignty of the Iraqi people," the statement said.
Iraqis on Wednesday went to the polls for the first time since the last U.S. troops withdrew from the country in late 2011. More than 9,000 candidates from nearly 280 political entities were vying for the 328 seats.
About 60 percent of the over 21 million eligible voters had so far cast a ballot according to initial counting, the electoral commission said. The commission hopes to release final results by the end of May.
The Security Council members, in the statement, said they "look forward to the announcement of Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission certifying the election results."
Ogwu also said, "The members of the Security Council reaffirm their support for the efforts of the Iraqi Government to help meet the security needs of the entire population of Iraq, particularly in the current challenging security environment and during elections."
"The members of the Security Council reiterate that no act of violence or terrorism can reverse a path towards peace, democracy and reconstruction in Iraq, underpinned by the rule of law and respect for human rights, which is supported by the people and the Government of Iraq and the international community," he said.
In response, Mohamed Ali Al-Hakim, the Iraqi permanent representative to the United Nations, told reporters here that he saw the new council statement as a "strong support to the Iraqi democratic process."
The parliamentary elections came "despite challenging situations," he said. "The people and government of Iraq demonstrated today their commitment to the democratic political process and defied all the terrorist threats."
Many Iraqis have voiced their hope that the parliamentary elections would bring about change to the country, but some local observers caution that Iraq still has a long way to go before it becomes a stable and prosperous nation.
Divisions among Iraq's main communities -- Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds -- have been deepening, reflecting the failure of the political process to curb the struggle among the country's factions that erupted after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
Iraqis vote for next parliament amid deadly attacks
BAGHDAD, April 30 (Xinhua) -- With deadly attacks targeting polling centers and violence increasingly sweeping the Iraqi cities, millions of Iraqis voted Wednesday in their first national elections since the withdrawal of U.S. troops more than two years ago.
The polls kicked off at 7:00 a.m. local time (0400 GMT) and closed at 6:00 p.m. (1500 GMT), during these hours insurgents attacked many polling centers across the country, leaving a total of 22 people dead and 62 others wounded, mostly security members and voters who defiantly headed to cast their votes with the hope of bringing better life for their families. Full story
Iraqis vote in hopes of a better future
BAGHDAD, April 30 (Xinhua) -- For 18-year-old Ahmad Ahmed, Wednesday marked a fresh start for him as a new voter and for Iraq as it emerges from years of relentless violence that left hundreds of thousands dead or maimed.
Ahmed was among the country's 21 million eligible voters who cast their ballots in more than 8,000 voting centers in the first parliamentary election since the withdrawal of U.S. troops at the end of 2011. Full story