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Iraqi President Rejects Provincial Elections Law


Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has rejected a controversial provincial elections law, a day after parliament passed it amid Kurdish protests.

The president's office Wednesday said Mr. Talabani, a Kurd, could not accept a law that was approved by less than half the members of Iraq's 275-member parliament. His office also said he is confident the Presidency Council, comprised of the Kurdish president, Shi'ite Vice President Adel Abdel Mahdi and Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, will not pass the law as well.

The Iraqi parliament passed the provincial elections law Tuesday - despite a walkout by Kurdish lawmakers over how elections will be held in the disputed oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

The Kurdish members of parliament want a referendum to determine who controls the multi-ethnic city. They objected to the law's power-sharing agreement for the city's Arab, Turkmen and Kurdish residents.

Disagreement over the issue could lead to a delay in provincial elections scheduled for October.

The United States today urged the Iraqi government to hold elections by the end of the year.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said local elections would help to further reconcile Iraq's different ethnic groups.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.


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