Iraqi PM hails new election law

Al-Maliki says passage of delayed law heralds a “new phase” for the war-torn country.

The vote cleared the way for Iraq’s electoral commission to announce a proposal to hold elections on January 21.

Presidential confirmation

Falaj al-Haidari, the head of the country’s Independent High Electoral Commission, said on Monday that the commission had submitted the date to the president’s office.

“We are in agreement for the election to take place on January 21,” al-Haidari said.

in depth

  Inside Iraq: The future of Nouri al-Maliki
  Inside Iraq: The Iraqi national movement
  Inside Iraq: The Iraqi diaspora
  Faultlines: Christopher Hill, Us ambassador to Iraq
  Riz Khan: Iraq’s rocky road to elections
  Video: Iraq security walls stand firm

“We sent a letter today to the presidency and we have received confirmation in a telephone call that they accept the date.”

The election was originally planned for January 16, but that date was thrown into doubt because of wrangling over the system to be used for the second national poll since Saddam Hussein, the former president, was thrown out in 2003.

The election law provides for an open candidate list, allowing voters to cast their ballot for an individual rather than a party. It also sets aside five seats in parliament for minorities.

The decision came after members of parliament overcame disagreements over the disputed city of Kirkuk and voter registration lists.

The MPs voted into law the Kurdish proposal that current lists be used in next year’s polls and that Kirkuk be kept as one electoral constituency.

A number of Arab and Turkmen politicians, who wanted the 2004 or 2005 records to be used and Kirkuk to be split into two constituencies, boycotted Sunday’s vote. 

Mosab Jasim, Al Jazeera’s Iraq producer, said after the vote: “The compromise in the case of Kirkuk is that elections in Kirkuk will be held alongside those in the rest of Iraq’s provinces.

“There is no special date for Kirkuk, there is no special treatment for Kirkuk except that if there is any claim of fraud, there is a special committee to investigate,” he said.

“If the fraud if proved, then the elections in Kirkuk can be cancelled and rerun in one year.”

Electoral ‘success’

Ethnic Kurds claim that Kirkuk, which sits on vast oil resources, is part of their ancestral homeland and want it included in their semi-autonomous northern region.

But the province is also home to a large number of Arabs and Turkmen who fiercely oppose Kurdish efforts to take it out of the control of the federal government.

Alaa Makki, a Sunni member of parliament from the Iraqi Islamic Party in Baghdad, said: “I think this law is the most important law in Iraq passed by the parliament since its establishment in 2006 because it could maintain the political process from being disturbed.

“Every partner – the Kurd, the Arab, the Turkman – accepted to pass this law by simple voting and we regard this is as a success for the coming challenges for Iraqis, he said.

‘Lasting peace’

Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of the Iraqi parliament, told Al Jazeera that the passing of the election law would be welcomed in Kirkuk.

“It was a good occasion. We are happy. We agreed and voted on the law and it’s passed now. The election will be on time,” he said.

“People will be happy about it in Kirkuk.”

Barack Obama, the US president, said that the approval of the law paved the way for the withdrawal of US forces from the country.

“This agreement advances the political progress that can bring lasting peace and unity to Iraq and allow for the orderly and responsible transition of American combat troops out of Iraq by next September,” he said at the White House.

The parliamentary election is seen as a crucial test for the country as it attempts to emerge from the sectarian carnage and civil strife that has followed the US-led invasion in 2003.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies


More from News
Most Read