24 January 2006

UN Remains Committed to Helping Palestinians Achieve own State, Says Secretary-General in Message on Forthcoming Election

NEW YORK, 23 January (UN Headquarters) -- The following message by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Palestinian people on the forthcoming legislative election was issued on 21 January:

I have a message to the Palestinian people as they approach the legislative election on 25 January: This will be an important milestone in your long and difficult history. I hope it will set you on the path to a more peaceful future, in which you at last have your own State and can live at peace with all your neighbours.

You deserve a free, fair and peaceful election. Your electoral commission is doing outstanding work under difficult circumstances. The international community is working with the Palestinian Authority to help it to ensure law and order. We believe that, whether you live in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, you must be able to exercise your democratic rights.

The United Nations and the Quartet are committed to the Road Map, of which these elections are a part. We are determined to help you to achieve, by peaceful means, what you are entitled to: an end to the occupation and a viable, contiguous, democratic State of Palestine, living at peace with a secure Israel.

To achieve that goal, the Palestinian Authority must pursue the path of reform and peace. In particular, the Palestinian Authority must establish its monopoly on the use of force. This is a difficult challenge, but it must be tackled.

Your decision at the ballot box will help set the course for your future. Your vote is your decision and yours alone. It is not only your democratic right to vote, it is also your responsibility. I encourage you all to vote on 25 January. And I assure you that the United Nations will remain steadfastly committed to helping you to achieve a state of your own.

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