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U.N. Plan Would Allow Local Elections to Proceed in Iraq

BY Admin  August 5, 2008 at 10:05 AM EST

Iraqi Parliament

Political leaders have been trying to reach an agreement on the law to provide for elections, but a dispute over the ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk — claimed by Arabs and Kurds and heavily populated by Turkmens — delayed a vote on the law originally set for Sunday, Reuters reported.

The Kurds say the law must contain a clause mandating a referendum on whether Kirkuk will join the Kurdistan regional government or remain under Baghdad’s control.

Provincial elections are scheduled for Oct. 1.

The United Nations plan would allow those elections to go forward in Iraq’s 17 other provinces if Parliament passes the law Tuesday. It also calls for a resolution to the Kirkuk issue by the end of October. It also would require that Kirkuk’s provincial election take place no later than December 2009, The New York Times reported.

“This removes a huge burden from everyone’s shoulders,” said Haider al-Abbadi, a member of the Dawa party. “Kirkuk is the problem, and we’re delaying the whole election.”

Mahmoud Othman, an independent Kurd, said that though there were some technical issues to be worked out, he supports the idea, according to the Times. “I think it’s not bad, just to delay it so these elections can take place,” he said.

Parliament was schedule to begin a month-long recess last week but has remained in session to act on a supplementary budget. Some lawmakers said if an election law was not passed Tuesday, Parliament would pass the budget and take up the election law when they return in September.

Over the weekend, Iraqi political leaders, U.N. representatives and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker met at the Baghdad residence of the Shiite Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi.

Washington has been pressing for a resolution to the issue, with President Bush calling Iraqi leaders in recent days, according to Reuters.