Iraqi lawmakers approve amendments to election law

15:46, November 24, 2009      

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Iraqi lawmakers on Monday approved an amended version of the controversial election law that would govern the country's national elections slated for January.

"We congratulate the Iraqi people and say that all Iraqis whether inside or outside the country will be able to vote for the seats of their provinces," Bahaa al-Araji, a Shiite lawmaker, told reporters at a press conference after the parliament session.

Araji's remarks meant that the parliament did not meet the demand of the Sunni Arab Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, who vetoed the first version of the election bill.

The lawmakers on Monday only changed the system for distributing seats, forcing the Sunni lawmakers to walk out before the vote on the amendments.

During the past few days, the parliamentary political blocs were holding intense talks in a bid to agree on the bill that was vetoed by Hashimi, who demanded more seats for Iraqis living abroad.

Most of Iraqis living outside Iraq are Sunni Arab Muslims who either fled the country due to the sectarian strife or were part of Saddam Hussein's regime that was toppled by the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

The Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq has also threatened to boycott the country's elections, protesting the process of the parliamentary seats allocation for all Iraqi provinces.

But the new version of the bill met the Kurdish demands by considering a rate of population growth by 2.8 percent for all the Iraqi provinces, including the northern Kurdish provinces, therefore, the parliamentary seats for the Kurdish provinces will increase.

The new version of the bill still has to be approved by the three-member presidency council again.

Iraqi and U.S. authorities fear that the deadlock over the election law is likely to delay the national elections and hamper the political process in the war-torn country.

Source: Xinhua
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