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Iraq's presidency council vetoes provincial election bill
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18:51, July 24, 2008

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Iraqi presidency council rejected the key provincial election legislative bill that was passed by the parliament on Tuesday, a statement from President Jalal Talabani office said on Thursday.

"President Talabani and Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi have agreed that the provincial election law contains constitutional and procedural breaches, which are harmful to the climate of national accord," the statement said after the two leaders discussed the election bill on Wednesday.

The two of the three-member council have officially rejected the draft law, and are waiting for the view of Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi over the bill, said the statement.

On Tuesday, the Iraqi parliament approved the law of provincial elections despite a walked-out by Kurdish legislatures protesting a secret vote exclusively held over an article dealing with the disputed oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

According to Iraq's constitution, the draft law should be delivered to the presidency council for an unanimous approval. The council consists of President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni Arab and Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi, a Shiite.

The provincial election law which would shift more political power to local levels, is strongly backed by Washington, as U.S. officials see the voting as another key step in the Iraqi national reconciliation.

The Sunni Arabs boycotted provincial election in 2005, enabling the Shiites and Kurds to win control locally, even in some Sunni-dominated regions.

The newly proposed elections are expected to ease sectarian and ethnic resentment by redistributing power at the local level.

Yet, the dispute among Iraq's Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen about the control of the northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk has been a major stumbling block to the passage of the legislation, which should have been completed by June.


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