Ad Melkert, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to Iraq and the head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), issued a statement in Baghdad in response to comments made by Nouri al-Maliki, the country’s Prime Minister. Media reports say that Mr. al-Maliki, who is the head of the State of Law political coalition, has challenged the validity of the vote, called for a recount and for UN support for such a move. “The role of the United Nations is solely to advise institutions in the country on an impartial basis, at their request,” Mr. Melkert said in his statement. “This is what the UN has done throughout the electoral process, in support of the Independent High Election Commission (IHEC) Board that has the sole decision-making power and has been unanimous in declaring the final result after reviewing complaints. “Also, the next stage leading to ratification by the Federal Supreme Court is entirely an Iraqi responsibility. Only at the request of the Government will we provide technical assistance and expertise for the upcoming stages.” On Friday the Special Representative described the polls as credible after IHEC unveiled the final results and he said there was no evidence to indicate there had been systematic or widespread fraud in the counting. The party headed by Iyad Allawi, a former prime minister, won slightly more seats in the 325-member Council of Representatives than the party of Mr. al-Maliki. At least 12 million Iraqis cast their ballots in the elections, held earlier this month, and more than 6,000 candidates ran for office. Mr. Melkert called on all candidates to accept the results of the polls and “to assume responsibility to lead Iraq to the next stage of democracy, stability and prosperity for all. Whether winning or losing, participation in the elections has been a collective victory.” 29 March 2010The process of ratifying the vote count in this month’s Iraqi parliamentary elections is entirely a national responsibility, the senior United Nations official in the country said today, stressing that the UN’s role is only to advise election authorities when requested.