UN team monitoring Iraqi elections will be ‘world’s largest,’ says US envoy

UN team monitoring Iraqi elections will be ‘world’s largest,’ says US envoy
US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the UN team to monitor Iraq's elections would be big enough to deter fraud. (AFP/File)
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Updated 12 May 2021

UN team monitoring Iraqi elections will be ‘world’s largest,’ says US envoy

UN team monitoring Iraqi elections will be ‘world’s largest,’ says US envoy
  • Linda Thomas-Greenfield also condemned the recent assassination of protest leader Ehad Al-Wazni as an attempt ‘to silence independent voices’
  • Iraqis will go to the polls in October, three years after the last election and more than a year after the government collapsed following sustained protests

NEW YORK: The UN team that monitors the elections in Iraq in October will be the largest of its kind to date, the US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said on Tuesday.

She thanked the Iraqi government for requesting additional UN support for the vote and said her country is seeking to bolster the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), which will send a “robust and visible” team to monitor the elections.

“UNAMI’s increased technical electoral-assistance team will be larger, more advanced, and better equipped than prior election teams — and it will be the largest UN technical electoral assistance mission in the world,” said Thomas-Greenfield. “Combined, this enhanced electoral support will eclipse the UN’s 2018 efforts (in Iraq).”

Iraqis are due to go to the polls in October, more than three years after the previous national vote to elect members of the Council of Representatives, who in turn choose the prime minister and president.

Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi took office a year ago after months of protests led to the collapse of the government of his predecessor, Adel Abdul Mahdi, which was formed after the 2018 elections.

Thomas-Greenfield thanked Al-Kadhimi for the efforts he has made to restore trust in the government, which she said was needed for progress to be made on the economy and holding elections.

She also condemned the assassination on May 9 of protest leader Ehad Al-Wazni, and said his murder is part of a “disturbing and unacceptable trend of violence attempting to silence independent voices in Iraq.”

She added: “Some of these perpetrators are Iran-aligned militias. They attack Iraqi bases hosting Defeat ISIS Coalition forces and supply convoys — there at Iraq’s invitation — killing and injuring Iraqi citizens.”


October 2019 marked the beginning of the biggest grassroots social movement in Iraq’s modern history. But, facing death threats and persecution at the hands of Iranian-aligned militia, many protest leaders have gone into hiding or into exile. Click here for more.

The US remains committed to Iraq’s economic development, said Thomas-Greenfield, who was speaking during a Security Council meeting to discuss the implementation of resolutions 2107 and 2522, which relate to the work of UNAMI.

While she commended the passage of the 2021 Federal Budget Law in Iraq, she lamented the fact that the “corruption endemic to so much of” the country is undermining economic progress.

“Ultimately, real economic recovery — like real elections — is about trust,” she added. “Robust reforms to end corruption are the key to restoring trust in Iraq’s political bodies.”

Speaking from Baghdad, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert — special representative of the UN secretary-general for Iraq, and head of UNAMI — said that the Iraqi people had spoken “loudly and clearly” in their call for free and fair elections.

She also warned of the “political pressure and interference, intimidation and illicit financial flows” that could jeopardize the credibility of elections.