Iraqi legislators approve election law


Baghdad : Iraq’s parliament adopted a new election law late Sunday, finally paving the way for voters to head to the polls early next year.

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The next parliament would see an increase from 275 seats to 325 seats, according to the new legislation, which also appeared to resolve disputes between parties over the allocation of the spots.

The distribution of seats across the country’s provinces and representation of Iraq’s religious and ethnic groups have created tensions between the various parties and endangered attempts to forge a consensus.

Tariq al-Hashemi, a vice president of Iraq, vetoed one law and had threatened to do so again, saying citizens abroad were being marginalised.

Iraqis who fled Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion — taking refuge in Jordan, Syria and other countries — are believed to be mostly Sunni, like al-Hashemi.

Originally, the nationwide elections had been slated for the middle of January, but owing to the impasse in reaching a deal, officials say the vote will now likely take place in late February or March.

A successful election is seen as key to reconciliation efforts in the country and a withdrawal of US troops.

In Washington, a spokesman for US President Barack Obama welcomed the Council of Representatives’ adoption of the law to allow national elections to be held within the framework of Iraq’s constitution, calling it “a decisive moment for Iraq’s democracy”.