Organizers of Iraq's January elections have decided to allow millions of Iraqis living abroad to vote in the polls, saying their participation will bring "more freedom, transparency and objectivity to the electoral process."

There had been much debate over whether non-resident Iraqis should be allowed to vote, mainly due to the complications of organizing and collecting their ballots.

The Iraqi Independent Electoral Commission did not say how it plans to organize the absentee voting. Resident Iraqis will use their ration cards to register to vote.

Between three and four million Iraqis, many of them members of the intellectual elite, are believed to have fled abroad during Saddam Hussein's rule.

The January vote will elect a 275-seat parliament that will draft a permanent Iraqi constitution.