Kurdish leaders had complained March 6 was historically inappropriate because of a treaty signed decades ago on that day between Iraq and Iran, which they say eroded their rights, officials said.

The announcement also comes two days after Iraqi parliamentarians finally struck a last-minute deal to get the poll back on track, but the news was overshadowed by a series of five car bombs in Baghdad that killed at least 127 people.

The election, which will now fall on a Sunday, the first day of the working week in Iraq, is seen as a crucial step towards consolidating Iraq's democracy and securing a complete US military exit by the end of 2011, as planned.  

It had originally been scheduled for January 16 but was delayed because of disagreements over the electoral law.