Kurds united on Kirkuk

Oct. 30, 2009 at 12:56 PM
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ERBIL, Iraq, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- Kurdish political leaders in Iraq have called for a united stance on the issue of Kirkuk as a key election vote stalls in the Iraqi Parliament.

Parliamentary elections in Iraq are scheduled for Jan. 16. That date is in jeopardy, however, as lawmakers have been unable to move forward with amendments to a 2005 election law.

Lawmakers are at odds over whether to hold the elections under a closed system, which lists only part names, or an open system that includes individual candidates on the ballot. The latest dispute is over how to conduct elections in the ethnically diverse city of Kirkuk.

Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, called for unity on the Kirkuk issue during a meeting with top Kurdish leaders.

Alla Talabani, a Kurdish lawmaker in the Iraqi Parliament, said regional leaders need to stand in solidarity on Kirkuk in order to advance their regional interests.

"Although we have no friends regarding the Kirkuk issue, we are confident that we alone can defend the rights of Kirkuk," she told analytical Web site Niqash.

U.S. military leaders worry further delays on the national election law could impact plans for a military drawdown.

"The future of Iraq depends on the Iraqi leadership and people," the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said in a recent statement.

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