HC Deb 17 September 2003 vol 410 cc786-7W
Mr. Challen

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what timetable is planned for elections in Iraq. [129613]

Mr. Rammell

We believe that it should be for the Iraqi people to determine the timetable for their elections, with appropriate international help as required. A Constitutional Preparatory Committee is due to report by mid-September with recommendations on drafting a constitution, a process which we hope will reach fruition by mid-2004, with the aim that national elections would be held shortly thereafter.

Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made since July regarding the involvement of other international bodies in Iraq.[130042]

Mr. Rammell

The Government remain committed to a vital role for the UN in Iraq, as provided for by Security Council Resolution 1483. The Security Council is currently considering a draft resolution which would encourage further participation by the UN and the international community in assisting Iraq, including in the political processes leading to the formation of a representative government. The Secretary-General's report of 17 July (of which a copy has been placed in the Library of the House) identified further areas in which the UN could contribute to the initial effort in Iraq. The Government would support an increased UN contribution in these areas. Following the terrorist attack on the United Nations Head quarters in Baghdad on 19 August, the UN's efforts in Iraq have inevitably been scaled back. We are in discussion with the UN on the security measures needed to ensure that the UN is able to resume and expand its role in Iraq.

Since July, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have been active in Iraq producing first needs assessments for the reconstruction of Iraq. This in-country work was cut short by the outrage against the UN headquarters on 19 August, but finalisation of the assessments continues.

It is vital for Iraq that international NGOs continue their work on the ground. It is hoped that, as the security situation in Iraq improves, these organisations will continue with their humanitarian efforts. The Madrid Donors' Conference next month should give a significant boost to Iraq's reconstruction process.

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