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    Iraq presidency approves provincial election law

    HotNewsTurkey with Wires
    03.10.2008 - 13:03 | Son Güncelleme:

    Iraq's three-member presidency council on Friday approved a long-delayed provincial election law, clearing the final hurdle for polls to go head early next year, an official present at the meeting told AFP. (UPDATED)

    Parliament adopted a revised version last month which puts off a decision on Kirkuk while authorizing the election in other provinces.


    "The presidency council has adopted the provincial election law," said the official, who is a member of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party.


    The council, which consists of President Jalal Talabani and his two vice presidents, Adel Abdul-Mehdi and Tareq al-Hashemi, has the power to veto laws. Talabani is a Kurd, Abdul-Mehdi is a Shi'ite Arab and Hashemi is a Sunni Arab, representing the country's three main ethnic and sectarian groups.


     Talabani used his veto power to reject a previous version of the bill in July after Kurds, angry over the Kirkuk issue, boycotted the parliamentary session that passed it.


    Talabani, Abdul-Mehdi, Hashemi and other top Iraqi officials met on Friday in Sulaimaniya province and were expected to announce the official ratification of the law later on Friday.


    The council’s stamp of approval means Iraq can now finally go ahead with the polls which had originally been scheduled for Oct.1.


    Iraq’s 275-member parliament finally passed the law on Sept. 24 but, in a move that has drawn U.N. criticism, MPs scrapped a key clause that would have reserved seats on provincial councils for Christians and other minorities.


    The presidency council called on MPs to reinstate the clause, the official said.


    The new law excludes the disputed northern oil province of Kirkuk and the three Kurdish provinces of Arbil, Dohuk and Sulaimaniyah.


    The elections, to be held early next year in 14 of Iraq’s 18 provinces, will provide clues on how Shi'ite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish factions will fare in national polls scheduled for late 2009. 



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