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A member of the Iraqi parliament's legal committee, Salim Abdullah al-Jibouri, says lawmakers have agreed to vote by Thursday on balloting guidelines for the oil-rich northern region of Kirkuk.

A stalemate over the issue of voting guidelines for Kirkuk, an ethnically mixed region that includes Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen communities, has been jeopardizing nationwide elections scheduled for January 16.

Among the issues the lawmakers will decide is whether to use current voter records for Kirkuk or a voter registry dating back to 2004. The United Nations has proposed using the 2009 voter records, and that option is supported by the Kurds. Arab lawmakers favor using the 2004 registry.

Last week, a U.N. special envoy, Ad Melkert, involved in the negotiations warned that further delays could undermine both the scheduled date and the credibility of the elections.

In April, the United Nations presented a report on reducing ethnic tensions and resolving territorial disputes in areas such as Kirkuk.  The report outlined four possible options for the province.  

It said all of the options were developed with the Iraqi constitution in mind and all of the proposals required a political agreement and some form of a referendum. 




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