Veto hangs over Iraqi election law

Nov. 16, 2009 at 3:45 PM
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BAGHDAD, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- The three-member presidential council in Iraq threatened to veto an election law over disputes regarding the representation of minorities and refugees.

Iraqi lawmakers managed to pass amendments to a 2005 election law set to govern parliamentary elections scheduled tentatively for Jan. 21. Lawmakers settled issues related to the disputed city of Kirkuk and the actual structure of the election, but additional disputes linger.

Lawmakers last week protested provisions in the amended law that restrict the number of seats in Parliament awarded to minority parties as the presidential council reviewed the measure during the weekend.

Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi said he would not endorse the current law as drafted, the Voices of Iraq news agency reports.

Hashemi protested what he saw as an effort to undermine the vote of Iraqi refugees living abroad, saying the seats allocated to them should reflect their actual numbers.

The election law calls for eight seats for minorities and eight compensatory seats awarded to smaller parties and refugee communities. Saleh al-Mutlaq, a leading Sunni lawmaker, joined in the protest of the new measure, demanding 30 seats for refugees, the Iraqi analytical Web site Niqash reports.

A possible veto could jeopardize the Jan. 21 election date, which could have ramifications on plans for the U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq.

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