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Iraqi VP Threatens Veto of Election Law


Tariq_al-Hashemi

Tariq_al-Hashemi

Iraq's Sunni Arab Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi says he may veto a proposed electoral law, which was amended Monday by parliament. The head of Iraq's electoral commission says failure to pass the law will delay elections by "at least a month" from their original January date.

Iraq's Sunni Arab Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi says he may veto a proposed electoral law, which was amended Monday by parliament. The head of Iraq's electoral commission says failure to pass the law will delay elections by "at least a month" from their original January date.

Iraq is caught in the crosswinds of a political crisis, after Shi'ite and Kurdish political parties agreed to a revised electoral law in the Iraqi parliament Monday leaving minority Sunnis fuming and irate.

Iraq's Sunni Arab Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, who vetoed an earlier version of the proposed electoral law, said Tuesday that he may veto the revised law as well. Failure to pass the law could delay elections, which are required by the constitution to be held in January.

While leaders of Iraq's majority Shi'ites and their Kurdish allies are pleased by Monday's revised law, minority Sunni leaders are hoping to derail the plan. Selim al-Jabbouri of the Iraqi Islamic party says that the new law is unfair.

He says that his parliamentary block holds the presidential council responsible for pushing through this law without having any real strategy. The law, he complains, increases the [principle of seats of representation by province but excludes Sunni representation outside the country], as well as for each political block that voted in favor of it, without taking into consideration the demands of our Sunni Accordance Front or other blocks that are hurt by the law.

Meanwhile, President Jalal Talabani, who is a Kurd, urged parliament Wednesday to support the electoral law, and appealed to Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi to "understand the need to approve it."

The Kurds, who opposed the original version of the electoral law, calling for further Kurdish representation, especially in the ethnically divided city of Kirkuk, appear to be satisfied by Monday's revision, according to Kurdish Prime Minister Barham Salih.

He says that the law that was passed Monday by the Iraqi parliament is acceptable to the Kurds for the most part, even if they still have some reservations.

The head of Iraq's electoral commission, Faraj al-Haidari, warned Tuesday that the "date of the parliamentary election will have to be postponed at least a month, until February 15th" if a new electoral law is not passed on time.

U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill has warned that it is "important for Iraq's future that these elections take place, soon," adding that "some slippage" will be acceptable, but not a lot. The planned U.S. drawdown of military forces is due to begin 60 days after the elections.

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