United Nations signs financial deal with EU to support U.N. electoral assistance to Iraq

Iraqi election commission officials open ballot boxes to count votes in the capital Baghdad, on May 8, 2014, following the country’s general elections. (AFP)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The United Nations in Iraq said on Monday it signed a financial agreement with the European Union to support U.N. electoral assistance to Iraq, as the country is preparing to hold early elections in October.

The European Union contributed 5.51 million euros ($6.565 million) to a U.N.-led project to support “capacity-building” within the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), UNAMI said in a statement.

“High voter turnout will be key in ensuring a parliament and government that are representative of all Iraqis,” said EU Ambassador to Iraq Martin Huth.

“By supporting the organization of the elections, the EU hopes to build the confidence among the Iraqi people in their elections and help IHEC establish a free, fair and inclusive electoral process that is deserving of their trust,” he added.

The allocation brings total contribution from the EU and its member states to $18.6 million, the UNAMI stated.

The U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) signed an agreement with the EU on April 8 to manage the financing and administration of the project, according to the UNAMI.

The vote is held every four years, but anti-government protesters demanded early elections.

In July, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi called for early elections to take place on June 6, 2021, which was one of the main demands of anti-government protesters who organized months of mass demonstrations beginning in October 2020.

But the Iraqi government postponed the elections to October 10, after the IHEC asked the prime minister to delay the voting to Oct. 16 in an effort to complete technical preparations.

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