New Delhi: Mining baron Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta Ltd Wednesday announced an oil discovery in its Krishna Godavari basin block in the Bay of Bengal. The block previously had a gas discovery in the very first well drilled. In a statement, Vedanta said “it has notified the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons and Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas of an oil discovery in the second exploratory well H2, located in the block KG-OSN-2009/3, Krishna-Godavari Basin, East Coast of India”. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalVedanta holds 100 per cent participating interest in the block. “Multiple reservoir zones were encountered in the well H2 within the Mesozoic sequence between the depths of 3,310 metres to 4,026 metres with hydrocarbon indications during drilling and downhole logging,” it said. The zone from 3,403 metres to 3,431 metres was tested through conventional well testing (Drill Stem Test) and flowed oil to the surface. “Further appraisal will be required to establish the size and commerciality of the oil discovery,” Vedanta said. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostThe first exploration well A3-2 drilled in the block was a gas discovery. “Evaluations are ongoing based on the results of the first well A3-2 and the second well H2 to finalise the forward programme,” it added. Cairn India, the company Vedanta bought and merged with itself, had in June 2010 won the KG-OSN-2009/3 block in the 8th round of New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP). It had committed to drill six exploratory wells on the block. These were expandable to 10. The KG basin is a proven basin where there have been many hydrocarbon discoveries. The company acquired around 1,000 square kilometres of 3D seismic data based on which it drilled two wells. KG-OSN-2009/3 offshore block in the Bay of Bengal was originally spread over in an area of about 1,988 sq km which was later reduced to 1,298 sq km due to exclusion of area within firing range. It is located in the shallow waters of the Indian Ocean along the East coast of India, approximately 1.5 km from the Indian coastline.
The dance of democracy has commenced in India as the world’s largest election exercise kickstarted this week. Lok Sabha 2019 is also turning out to be the most bitterly fought election in the history of the Indian democracy. Parties are scrambling to retain power or snatch it. In the middle of this turf war, elections are also a time for celebration because only ever so often (once in five years to be precise) do ordinary citizens truly get a chance to exercise their right of franchise. It is also a matter of great responsibility as almost 900 million voters begin to cast their votes and decide their future and that of the nation. Also Read – A special kind of bondThis great power that lies on our finger for that brief moment within the polling booth (provided the EVMs function without glitches and our names do appear in voter lists) is not to be taken lightly. The vote that we cast will decide the path taken by the nation for the next five years. It is also poignant to remember that the mandate given by the people in these general elections will also be a referendum on the BJP government’s performance in its last tenure. It will either be an acceptance or rejection of the BJP’s politics and policies, and it will be for all of it. It cannot be a selective acceptance of the saffron party’s nation-building and infrastructure development without the acceptance of the polarisation, communalism, demonetisation, lynching, NRC, and beef ban that have also been a part of it. Voting for Congress or the regional parties will be an acceptance of their past failures, corruption charges, possibilities of political instability, and promises of an India different from the one that has assumed centre stage in the last five years. Also Read – Insider threat managementAs citizens, our ideologies may be varied, our beliefs at loggerheads with each other; but if the democratic process is followed in true spirit and practice, then we shall all have the right to vote for whomever we trust. But do remember dear readers, that this time we vote not only for the next government that will come to power but also for the very idea of India. It is absolutely possible that that idea of India with its secularism, tolerance, and universal brotherhood, may not be wholly acceptable by the majority, but it sure is something worth fighting for. If you desire a change in that idea of India that has been our foundation since Independence, that has formed the backbone of our thinking, then so be it. But do be well aware of what you’re signing up for and the future trajectory of the nation. Read the manifestos of the various parties, understand what they promise to deliver. Don’t go just by hearsay, hyperboles, fake news and propaganda; do your research, and then take a moment to think before you cast your vote. The will of the people is supreme and whatever be their decision will be known on May 23 and will have to be accepted. But as long as we jump or fall with our eyes open, fully aware of who and what we are voting for, then this election will be a success for democracy. Whatever be your decision, whoever your tribesman, do step out and vote. This brilliant dance of democracy will be incomplete without your vote, even if you choose to vote for ‘None of the Above’. (The writer is a journalist and media entrepreneur. The views expressed are strictly personal)
ROME: Rafael Nadal is right back where he wants to be. After losing in the semifinals of three straight clay-court tournaments, Nadal dominated for stretches against his longtime rival, Novak Djokovic, in a 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 win Sunday for a record-extending ninth Italian Open title. It marked the first time in an Open Era-record 54 meetings, and in their 142nd set against each other, that Nadal won a set against Djokovic without conceding a game – otherwise known as a Also Read – We will push hard for Kabaddi”s inclusion in 2024 Olympics: Rijijubagel. The timing for Nadal’s return to form could not have been more opportune, as he will seek a record-extending 12th title at the French Open starting next weekend. ”Winning a title is important but for me the most important thing is feel myself competitive, feel myself healthy,” Nadal said. ”Then with the feeling that I am improving. I know if I’m able to reach my level you can win, you can lose, but normally I’m going to have my chances, especially on this surface.” Also Read – Djokovic to debut against Shapovalov at Shanghai MastersTop-ranked Djokovic, meanwhile, appeared exhausted after spending more than 5 1/2 hours on court against Juan Martin del Potro and Diego Schwartzman the previous two days. Djokovic was also coming off the Madrid Open title last week. ”I don’t want to talk about fatigue or things like that,” Djokovic said. ”Rafa was simply too strong today.” In the women’s final earlier, Karolina Pliskova captured the biggest clay-court trophy of her career by beating Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-4. The Foro Italico crowd continually tried to encourage Djokovic with chants of ”Vai Nole!” – Go Nole! – but the top-ranked Serb struggled with his overhead and drop shots. Midway through the second set, Nadal chased down a lob with an over-the-shoulder shot and Djokovic’s ensuing overhead landed in the net to conclude a long point. Djokovic again netted an overhead in the next game and then kicked the ball in frustration when he missed a drop shot attempt late in the second. But Djokovic hung around in the second and converted his first set point when a looping forehand from Nadal sailed wide for his first break of the match. As he walked to his chair after winning the second set, Djokovic waved his arms to get the crowd behind him. However, Djokovic didn’t have much left in the tank. When Nadal pushed Djokovic deep into the corner in the opening game of the third set and Djokovic’s desperation lob sailed long to hand Nadal a break, Djokovic smashed his racket to the clay three times in frustration and received a warning from the chair umpire. Djokovic won only 29 percent of the points on his second serve and committed 39 unforced errors to Nadal’s 17. Also, Nadal won 23 of the 31 rallies with nine or more shots. It was his 81st tournament win and it takes him 34-33 ahead of Djokovic in Masters 1,000 Series titles. Victory is a boost before the French Open for Nadal, who was beaten by Djokovic in the Australian Open final in January, and had lost at the semi-final stage in his past four tournaments. Since 2005, Nadal has won at least one of the nine Masters 1,000 events in a season every year except 2015. Nadal and Djokovic will be the top two seeds in the second major of the year at Roland Garros later this month.
Rabat- King Mohammed VI of Morocco was named “personality of the year for family cohesion” by the Arab Family Award.The award was bestowed on the Moroccan monarch in “recognition of his efforts and initiatives for boosting family security and safety and promoting social justice” in Morocco.“The choice of King Mohammed VI, King of the Kingdom of Morocco, Personality of the Year for Family Coherence in its third session, is in recognition of his constructive efforts and initiatives in the arena of family, his interest in the maintenance of security and family safety in Morocco, the establishment of community justice throughout the Kingdom of Morocco, as well as his tireless efforts to achieve social balance,” Jamal bin Obaid Al Bah, Chairman of AFO said. “King Mohammed VI is a reference in the Arab world for his venerable initiatives and humanitarian services,” he added.
Rabat – Moroccan carrier Royal Air Maroc (RAM) has banned a Moroccan woman from boarding a plane from Casablanca to Saudi Arabia this Monday, Moroccan media reported.The Moroccan airline employees stopped the woman from boarding the flight, although she showed them her flight ticket, a valid visa and her employment contract in Saudi Arabia, daily Akhbar Alyaoum reported.The newspaper quoted a source from RAM as saying that the Moroccan company received instructions from Saudi Arabian authorities not to allow Moroccan women, under the age of 45, to enter Saudi Arabia for Umrah, unless they are accompanied with their mahram (a male relative). However, the source did not specify whether this measure applies also to Moroccan women who have employment contracts in the Gulf country and want to enter the country for work.This incident comes a few weeks after Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the government would ban Moroccan women from going to work as domestic maid in Saudi Arabia.Last month, a Moroccan whose employer had allegedly abused her and prevented her from leaving the house, shared a video on YouTube where she recounts her ordeal.Alerted by the number of Moroccan woman abused by their employers, the Ministry said that it would no longer validate maids’ employment contracts, in order to “spare Moroccans” from facing “compromising situations”.
Geneva – At least 700 migrants were believed to be on board a boat that capsized off the Greek island of Crete Friday, with hundreds still missing, the International Organization for Migration said.“Over 250 people have been rescued from a shipwreck off Crete which is believed to have left Africa with at least 700 migrants on board,” the organization said in a statement.Along all Mediterranean routes, more than 2500 people have died trying to reach Europe since the beginning of the year, with the vast majority of the fatalities occurring on crossings between Libya and Italy. Some 204,000 migrants and refugees have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe since January, the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday.More than 2,500 people have died trying to make the perilous journey this year, with the vast majority of them on crossings between Libya and Italy.With MAP
Sarajevo – Bosnia and Herzegovina and Morocco signed, on Wednesday in Sarajevo, an agreement on mutual visa exemption for holders of diplomatic, service or special passports.The agreement was signed by Bosnian Foreign Minister Igor Crnadak and Moroccan ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia Moulay Abbes Kadiri.In a speech on the occasion, Igor Crnadak expressed his country determination to develop friendship relations with Morocco given the Kingdom’s assets and potentials which helped it to have a special status in international relations. Moulay Abbes Kadiri highlighted Morocco’s ongoing efforts to strengthen relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina and recalled that this agreement comes after the judiciary, economic and commercial agreements between the two countries.
Rabat – Although Xylella Fastidiosa has not affected Morocco, the bacterium poses a great threat to 350 plant, tree, ornamental, and forest species in the Mediterranean region.On Monday, February 20, the National Food Safety Authority (ONSSA) organized a study day in Rabat in collaboration with Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) under the title, “Xylella diseases, a very serious phytosanitary risk for the arboricultural sector in Morocco.”This day is part of the regional technical cooperation project with FAO dedicated to strengthening national capacities to prevent the introduction and spread of Xylella Fastidiosa in North Africa and the Near East. It aims to inform and sensitize stakeholders on the phytosanitary risk linked to Xylella fastidiosa, the factors of its spread, and the danger that it poses for plant species. The Secretary General of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mohammed Sadiki, presided over the official opening of the National Awareness Day on the bacterium Xylella Fastidiosa, in the presence of the FAO Representative in Morocco, Mr. Michael George Hage, Representative of the Moroccan Confederation of Agriculture and Rural Development (COMADER), Mr. Rachid Banali, and representatives of the professional organizations and heads of the Department of Agriculture.Mr. Sadiki pointed out that this disease does not affect Morocco, but in order to avoid the spread of the disease, the commitment of all actors operating in the import sector is necessary. “This meeting is organized in a very precise context, marked by the increase in trade between Morocco and many European countries from which our country imports important quantities plants that are hosts of the bacterium”, he added.In early February, the bacterium was detected on the Balearic Islands, in the Mediterranean. Accordingly, the National Office of Food Safety (ONSSA) implemented a proactive strategy based on a series of preventive measures.Xylella fastidiosa is a highly epidemic disease, potentially transmitted by many insect vectors, the Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement. In the absence of methods to control this bacterium, “only uprooting and total destruction of plants are recommended to cope with it and eradicate the disease in contaminated pockets,” adds the same source.ONSSA is thus very vigilant and ensures close monitoring of the evolution of the phytosanitary situation. The technical services of the office are deploying extra efforts by raising awareness among farmers and agricultural professionals so they can quickly identify the symptoms of Xylella fastidiosa and mobilize the necessary means of control.Xylella fastidiosa swept through several regions in the world, including the United States and Canada, Central America, Asia, and Europe. It has been reported in Italy in 2013, France in 2015, and Germany and Spain in 2016.
Rabat – A video showing a group of people wearing US Navy uniforms threatening Nasser Zefzafi, the leader of the protest movement in Al Hoceima, spread like wildfire on social networks.The one minute long footage shows the very muscular and strong men, who pretended to be members of the Navy, promising to “break Zefzafi’s bones,” claiming that the activists is “trying to create strife and conflict” between the Rif people and the rest of Moroccans.The man speaking in the video did not chew his words: “there’s many of us, a patch for each and we’ll sink Al Hoceima.” However, the men in questions were mere extras in an American movie that is being currently filmed in Tangier.The actors who took advantage of their costumes to perpetuate such dangerous hate speech, filmed the brief footage to “express” their opinions about what is currently happening in the Northern regions of Morocco.In fact, the man who appears to be the group’s leader, is a bodybuilder in one of Tangier’s gym clubs.A large number of social media users who massively shared the video, believed the group of men to be members of the Moroccan Royal Armed Forces.While some demanded an explanation for the footage, many others didn’t shy from expressing their “admiration” and lauding the hateful and threatening content of the footage, which is a blatant call for violence
LAS VEGAS — Closets that freshen clothes, cooktops that won’t let pots boil over, faucets told to dispense just enough water to fill the coffee maker. Wherever one looked at the annual Design and Construction Week, there was a new way to make our lives more efficient.“We can make appliances work harder for you,” said Cara Acker, a senior brand manager for Bosch Home Appliances.So while homeowners list security cameras, video doorbells and programmable thermostats as the technology they’re most interested in, according to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders, the future is offering that and much, much more.More than 2,000 exhibitors participated in the annual trade show, which brings the NAHB and the National Kitchen and Bath Association together. Some highlights:___DRESS REFRESHTwo companies, LG and Samsung, demonstrated self-contained clothing lockers that use a combination of air and steam to remove dust and odours from clothes and other items, like stuffed animals and pillows.Samsung Electronics says a 25-minute cycle in its AirDresser removes 99 per cent of the germs and bacteria in clothes ranging from cotton to cashmere.LG Electronics, meanwhile, says its LG Styler with SmartThinQ eliminates so many allergens during a 20-minute cycle that it’s certified by the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America.Both units can hold three items and a pair of pants, and both are Wi-Fi-enabled to send alerts when the cycle is finished. The Styler can also recognize simple voice commands through Google Assistant.One difference between the two is that the AirDresser has hangers that send jets of air over and through the garments, while the Styler vibrates the hangers back and forth about 220 times per minute.“It extends the life of clothing in between trips to cleaners, saving users money and keeping them looking their best,” said LG Styler spokeswoman Taryn Brucia. Price tag: about $2,000.The Styler is already on the market, with a new black mirror finish available later this year. The AirDresser launch date isn’t yet set.___DRYER DISHESIt’s a bold boast, but Bosch and Thermador, which are owned by the same parent company, say their high-end dishwashers will eliminate towel and air-drying, even on plastic.To show how it works, Acker added water to a goldfish bowl containing small white pellets of the mineral zeolite. The water was quickly absorbed, and the bowl warmed noticeably. In their high-end dishwashers, the heat generated by the moist zeolite is circulated through the tub after the final drying cycle. This “CrystalDry” feature should be available in late summer on the Bosch Benchmark and 800 Series dishwashers. The price hasn’t been released, but the technology debuted last year on the Thermador Star Sapphire dishwasher with “StarDry,” which retails for $2,800.Not to be left out, the mid-priced Bosch 500 series dishwashers will be advertising a new feature called AutoAir. It pops the dishwasher door open about 5 inches at the end of the cycle to release steam. (Look for it in late summer. Price not yet released.)___COOKING CREATIVITYInduction cooking is getting an upgrade, and celebrity chef Brian Malarkey used it in a cooking demonstration at the GE display, touting the precise control it allows.“You have so much more range,” he said.For those with nascent cooking skills, GE Appliances’ new Cafe brand offers an induction surface that uses Bluetooth to sync the burner with a smart frying pan when following a recipe through its Hestan Cue app. That pairing will adjust the pan temperature and monitor the cooking time. It retails for $2,530-$4,300.For more confident cooks, Gaggenau has a full-surface, 36-inch induction cooktop that can determine the shape, size and position of up to six pots or pans. The power level follows the pan as you move it around the cooktop, and sensors ensure that pots don’t boil over. It retails for $6,750, with a five-pan, 30-inch cooktop selling for $6,200.___FLAUNT IT IF YOU’VE GOT ITWhile Houzz principal economist Nino Sitchinava told a seminar that a “hot new trend” is to hide the range hood behind cabinetry, GE Profile is taking the opposite approach with its new 27-inch “Kitchen Hub.”In addition to a four-speed ventilation system, the flat-fronted hood is a touchscreen that can take voice commands via Google Assistant. Cameras face forward and down to allow multitaskers to post food shots or video chat while they cook. The hood can also be used to access recipes, playlists, social media and Netflix, or to connect with some other GE and Haier smart products to perform tasks such as adjusting the thermostat or turning on the dryer. It is set to launch in May for $1,200-$1,400.___WATER WORKSFor those of us who can’t see straight until we’ve had our coffee, there’s now a way to measure the correct amount of water automatically.Delta’s VoiceIQ faucets lets you set up to six custom container sizes, so a voice command to “fill coffee pot” will turn the water on and off, dispensing the preset amount. It also understands requests for direct measurements, like “2 cups” or “3 quarts.” Available for the past few months on its $500 Trinsic faucet, the $150 VoiceIQ module will be sold separately starting this summer. It is designed to work on any Delta faucet with Touch2O Technology manufactured after January 2018.It also lets you track water usage.Another smart water product intended to reduce the headaches caused by leaking faucets and frozen pipes won an award at the show for best Smart Home Technology. The Flo by Moen hooks up to a home’s main water supply line. Sensors on the Wi-Fi-connected device monitor water flow, pressure and temperature, while artificial intelligence differentiates between normal and abnormal use. Homeowners are fed the information and alerts through a smartphone app. It retails for $500.___BLACK IS THE NEW GRAY“We’re kind of tired of stainless steel,” said Sitchinava, of Houzz. “There is a contender that is coming through: black stainless steel.”On the show floor, stainless and black stainless appliances were in abundance, as were shades of white and the occasional pop of cobalt blue and emerald green.And there are new options on the horizon. The Cafe brand offers glass fronts over a platinum finish this fall. And, Samsung is launching a new neutral colour this spring: Tuscan Stainless. The warm natural bronze finish was shown on a refrigerator, which still carried accents of stainless steel. A Samsung spokesman said that was to allow the refrigerator to co-ordinate with existing stainless appliances.Karen Schwartz, The Associated Press
CARLSBAD, N.M. — New Mexico became the national leader in pecan production last year after Hurricane Michael struck down large swaths of Georgia’s crop, new U.S. Department of Agriculture numbers show.New Mexico produced about 90 million pounds of pecans in 2018 compared to Georgia’s 56 million, the Carlsbad Current-Argus reports .Georgia, traditionally the largest pecan-producing state, saw its crop crippled by the storm, cutting production by almost half from 107 million pounds.Lenny Wells, associate professor of Horticulture with a focus on pecans at the University of Georgia, said 17 per cent of the state’s pecan acreage was lost to the storm.Georgia lost about $100 million in pecan crops, $260 million in trees, and up to $200 million in future income, Wells said.“We had some pretty severe devastation,” Wells said.The storm landed in the Florida panhandle on Oct. 10 and quickly moved into Georgia’s southwest corner with winds up to 125 mph.It proceeded into the state with winds sustained at about 100 mph.Hurricane Michael was the first Category 3 storm to impact Georgia since the 1890s, the National Weather Service reported.In 2017, about 97 per cent of New Mexico’s 90 million pounds of pecans were produced in five of its 33 counties, according to the most recent data from the USDA’s New Mexico Annual Bulletin.About 73 per cent of the statewide crop came from Doña Ana County, with Eddy County producing about 11 per cent.Records show Texas and Arizona ranked third and fourth in pecan production.New Mexico reported a growth of almost 50 million pounds in the past decade from 43 million pounds in 2008.___Information from: Carlsbad Current-Argus, http://www.currentargus.com/The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Mark Zuckerberg is getting a taste of his own medicine, three weeks after Facebook declined to remove a doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.A fake video circulating on Facebook-owned Instagram shows Zuckerberg gloating over his one-man domination of the world.It’s the latest flap over doctored videos as Facebook and other social media services try to stop the spread of misinformation and “fake news” while also respecting free speech.The somewhat crude video of the Facebook CEO combines news footage with fake audio.Mae Anderson, The Associated Press
In recent days the armed gang leader in the Bélékou quarter, Amaral Duclona, handed over to the National Disarmament, Dismantlement and Reintegration Commission 16 automatic weapons and 2,000 cartridges of all calibres, while Claude Jeune, a member of the gang led by the notorious Evens Jeune, who was himself captured earlier this month, surrendered nine automatic weapons and munitions. Just this Monday the armed group close to Jean Edy, alias Blade, in the Brooklyn quarter handed over 13 powerful weapons and 1,000 cartridges, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) said in its latest update on the months-long security sweeps in which hundreds of UN peacekeepers teamed up with Haitian National Police (PNH). “MINUSTAH operations in cooperation with the PNH are going to continue in high-risk areas,” Commission president Alix Fils-Aimé said, praising the mission’s role. Meanwhile MINUSTAH, set up in 2004 to help re-establish peace in the impoverished Caribbean country after an insurgency forced President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to go into exile, is continuing its efforts to reinforce state institutions by promoting decentralization and better management of local finances, now that mayors are elected. “In concert with the Haitian Government, MINUSTAH intends to accompany and support the new mayors in accomplishing their tasks,” the head of the mission’ Civil Affairs Section’s Unit of Institutional Support, Marc Plum, said of training sessions organized in the run-up to municipal elections, attended by 14,000 civilians and 1,000 candidates of the past year. The mission is helping the Finance and Interior Ministries train some 60 financial controllers to assist the new municipal administrations in better managing their budgets. “We will also work together with the Finance and Interior Ministries on ways to generate new local sources of revenue for the new municipalities to allow them to put in place better services adapted to the needs of their constituents,” Mr. Plum said. 22 March 2007Some of the most notorious armed gangs in Haiti are handing over their weapons following a United Nations-backed crackdown on crime in one of the violence-ridden country’s most dangerous areas which they had terrorized for years, the Cité Soleil neighbourhood in Port-au-Prince, the capital.
14 January 2008The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated nearly $600,000 to provide Ethiopians in the country’s strife-torn Somali region with food aid. The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated nearly $600,000 to provide Ethiopians in the country’s strife-torn Somali region with food aid. The funds will be used by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to help Ethiopian authorities deliver WFP food to the Somali region, where conflict between Government forces and the Ogaden National Liberation Front has intensified this year. To date, WFP has provided almost 17,000 metric tons of food for the five zones under military operations, though it notes that a shortage of military escorts continues to hamper timely deliveries. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the humanitarian situation in the region has been compounded by poor rains and the decreasing availability of pasture and water, while food prices are being pushed up by restrictions on the cross-border movement of goods. Last month, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes noted that fears are growing that up to 4.5 million people could soon face famine-like conditions in the region. “There are strong reasons to believe such a catastrophe could occur in the next few months if all the necessary action to avert it is not taken,” Mr. Holmes said, following a visit to the area. He added that insecurity and Government restrictions are making it difficult for aid workers to even reach those in need.” In a related development, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) is helping the Ethiopian Government develop a preparedness and response plan amid fears of a large-scale meningitis outbreak next month.
21 February 2008More than 200 applications have been received for the eight remaining directorships of Iraq’s governorate election offices (GEOs), the United Nations assistance mission for that country (UNAMI) announced today in Baghdad. The number of applications received “proves that Iraqis are ready to participate in the selection process and in determining their own future,” Staffan de Mistura, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative in Iraq, said at a press conference. To date, according to UNAMI, 224 applications had been submitted for positions in the seven governorates of Basra, Diala, Karbala, Najaf, Nenawa, Wassit and Baghdad, where there are two offices, to help implement legislation calling for governorate elections before 1 October. The mission added that 22 women had submitted applications for the posts, which must be received before the deadline of 28 February.Concerns had been raised by the UN and many political leaders in Iraq about the way in which the previous selection of 11 of Iraq’s 19 governorate election office directors were conducted in September 2007, and the mission last week urged an improved selection process.“The applications process for these positions is an initial step towards transparent and professional selection of the remaining eight governorate electoral offices directors,” Mr. Mistura said.