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Iraqi parliament approves amendment for provincial election law
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21:57, November 03, 2008

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The Iraqi parliament approved on Monday the rest of the quota of minorities' seats on the country's provincial councils due to be elected next year.

The lawmakers voted in majority of 106 out of 150 members of parliament on an amendment that gives Christians and other small religious minorities a total of six seats on the councils of the provinces of Baghdad, Nineveh and Basra.

A seat will give to each Christians and Sabeans in Baghdad, and a seat for each Christians, Yazidies and Shabak in Nineveh, and a single seat for Christians in Basra.

On Sept. 24, the Iraqi 275-seat parliament approved the provincial election law after reaching a consensus among the conflicted political blocs, and called for holding the vote no later than Jan. 31, 2009.

However, the approved law removed article 50 that reserves seats on provincial councils for Christians and other minorities, a move which faced wide protests across the country.

Staffan de Mistura, UN special envoy to Iraq, criticized earlier members of Iraq's parliament for dropping article 50, calling on lawmakers to reinstate it by Oct. 15.

Before the 2003 U.S.-led Iraq war, there was an estimated 1.4 million Assyrian Christians. Now the number has plummeted to less than half a million. According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Christians make up nearly half of those fleeing Iraq even though they make up only about three percent of the country's population.

Source: Xinhua

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