U.S. hails Iraqi parliament's support for elections

11:13, December 07, 2009      

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The United States welcomes the agreement reached Sunday by the Iraqi parliament regarding a bill on running elections planned for early next year, saying it is a decisive moment for Iraq's democracy.

"This legislative action will allow Iraq to hold national elections within Iraq's constitutional framework. It is a decisive moment for Iraq's democracy and we congratulate the Iraqi people and their elected representatives," the White House said in a statement.

According to the statement, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden on Sunday spoke with Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani and confirmed the U.S. commitment to a long-term relationship with Iraq, including the KRG.

The Iraqi lawmakers on Sunday unanimously agreed on amendments to the electoral law in an attempt to avoid a second veto against the law by the Sunni Vice President Tariq al- Hashimi.

Earlier, Hashimi vetoed the electoral law, demanding more seats in the parliament for Iraqis living abroad, of whom most are SunniArab Muslims.

According to the amendments, the number of seats in the coming parliament will be 325 instead of 275 in the current parliament, and 310 of which will be allotted to the country's 18 provinces. Of the remaining 15 seats, eight will be reserved for Iraqi minorities and seven for the blocs which garner national support.

The national elections are scheduled for Jan. 16, but the delay of nearly a month by Hashimi's veto and political debates have made it almost impossible to meet the date.

The U.S. and Iraqi officials fear that the latest political crisis will delay the elections and then may affect the U.S. plan to withdraw its combat troops from Iraq before the end of August 2010.

Obama has ordered the pullout of his combat troops by the end of August, 2010, and the withdrawal of the remaining troops by the end of 2011.

Source: Xinhua
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