Kirkuk status delays election vote

Oct. 28, 2009 at 12:07 PM
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BAGHDAD, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Iraqi lawmakers delayed until Thursday a vote on amendments to a national election law on lingering issues over the status of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

Lawmakers in Parliament were expected to pass a measure on the election law earlier this month. Disputes had centered on whether to hold parliamentary elections schedule for January using a closed system, listing only political parties, or an open system, listing candidates' names.

The latest obstacle concerns the disputes over Kirkuk. Ethnic Arabs and Turkmen want to use a previous version of the law enacted before the return of thousands of Kurds to the city. Kurds, for their part, want any new measure to consider the shift in demographics.

U.N. officials consider the delays a "critical" obstacle to holding elections on time. Lawmakers are said to be considering a provision offered by the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq that gives Kurds a simple majority and distributes the rest of the shares to Arabs, Turkmen and Christians.

Fouad Mousoum, who heads the Kurdistan Alliance slate, told analytical Web site Niqash that he was hopeful that "the political blocs will be able to reach consensus to resolve outstanding issues in the election law, especially those related to Kirkuk."

Meanwhile, Kurdish Prime Minister Barham Saleh takes over in the Kurdistan Regional Government as a new Cabinet was sworn in on Wednesday in Erbil.

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