UN envoy urges Iraq to address growing lack of faith in political system

'Public disillusion is running sky-high,' says Special Representative Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, calling for country to get moving on reforms

UN Special Representative to Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert speaks at a press conference in Baghdad, in 2021. AP
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The UN's special representative for Iraq has urged the country to address a growing lack of faith among Iraqis it its political system.

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert urged Iraq to form a government and get moving on critical reforms at the UN Security Council on Tuesday.

“Public disillusion is running sky-high,” Ms Hennis-Plasschaert told the council.

“Too many Iraqis have lost faith in the ability of the political class to act in the interest of the country and its people. A continued failure to address this loss of faith, will only exacerbate Iraq’s problems.”

She stressed "the importance of maintaining calm, of maintaining dialogue, constitutional compliance, respect for democratic principles, the unimpeded working of state institutions, and a functioning government to effectively address the legitimate demands for better public services, jobs, security, an end to corruption, and justice and accountability.

"But regretfully, discord and power play prevailed over a sense of common duty. And as a direct result of protracted political inaction, Iraq experienced some very critical and dangerous hours.

"Meanwhile, the ordinary Iraqi citizen was being held hostage to an unpredictable and untenable situation," she said.

Iraq remains gripped by political instability and a deadlocked government, and tensions between Baghdad and the Kurdistan regional government have increased over access to natural resources.

The UAE's deputy ambassador to the UN, Mohamed Abushahab, also expressed his concern over the delay in forming a government and called for all relevant stakeholders to overcome current obstacles and “ensure the interests of the Iraqi people prevail over all considerations.”

“We stress here that further violence and escalation will not only impact Iraq and its people, but also the entire region,” he said.

Ms Hennis-Plasschaert also condemned attacks against Iraq's Kurdish population, saying they must stop.

The strikes killed at least 13 people and wounded 58, including civilians and children, according to the health ministry in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

“Addressing the council in May, I raised the alarm at Turkish and Iranian shelling in the North having become the 'new normal' for Iraq,” Ms Hennis-Plasschaert said.

“With last week’s Iranian attacks, I can now only repeat myself. These reckless acts, which have devastating consequences, killing and injuring people, must cease.”

She added that no neighbour should treat Iraq as its “backyard”.

“No neighbour should be allowed to routinely, and with impunity, violate Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Yet it is happening. Time and again.”

Her comments came as Muhammad Al Uloom, Iraq’s ambassador to the UN, sought condemnation from the Security Council for the September 28 strikes.

He said that Iraq called on Iran to “live up to its international commitments” and to give up “the language of weapons and of violence, to settle the regional challenges.”

Updated: October 05, 2022, 5:13 AM