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Swiss aid hinges on improved security in Iraq

The SDC is hoping the Iraqi election results will stabilise the country Keystone Archive

The results of the first democratic elections in Iraq in 50 years will not necessarily affect Swiss aid to the country in the short term.

This content was published on January 29, 2005 - 12:51

More crucial is whether the security situation improves after Sunday’s vote, says the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, (SDC).

Should things take a turn for the positive, spokesman Jean-Philippe Jutzi said that more Swiss money could flow to Iraq.

Last year a total of SFr2 million ($1.69 million) in Swiss aid reached Iraq; Bern also cancelled 80 per cent of the debts owed to it by Iraq, amounting to SFr264 million accrued during the 1970s and 1980s.

Jutzi is also optimistic that the elections could improve things on the ground.

“[The best case scenario would be that] the elections contribute in the very short term to stabilising the situation and one could envisage the return of international organisations,” Jutzi said.

The SDC has currently no non-Iraqi staff based in Iraq; two Iraqis man its mission, which is coordinated by the agency's headquarters in Bern.

A number of Iraqis based in Switzerland will also be casting their vote in Sunday’s election but face travelling to France or Germany to do so. This is because there is no polling station in Switzerland.

Meanwhile, the security situation in Iraq has taken a turn for the worse.

On Saturday, the day before the polls, a suicide bomber killed eight people just outside Baghdad at an American-Iraqi security post.

In an effort to pre-empt violent acts, national security forces have sealed off Iraq’s borders, barricaded streets and closed Baghdad airport.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

About 14 million voters are expected to vote in the Iraqi elections on Sunday.
280,000 Iraqis based abroad have registered to vote.
Swiss aid to Iraq in Iraq amounted to SFr2 million.

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