Middle East News
Iraq parliament postpones vote on election law veto
Nov 21, 2009, 13:12 GMT
Baghdad - Iraqi's parliament on Saturday postponed a vote on whether to overturn the vice president's veto of the country's new elections law, a member of the legislature said.
'Iraqi MPs did not reach a consensus during today's session over the issue. They decided to postpone discussions till Sunday,' Ezzeddin al-Dawla told told the German Press Agency, dpa.
The issue at the heart of the veto is what percentage of seats in the new parliament will be chosen by expatriate Iraqi voters.
The country had been scheduled to go to the polls on January 18, following a lengthy parliamentary tussle over the electoral law governing the ballot.
But following Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi's veto of the law, the electoral commission said it was suspending preparations for election until the controversy had been settled.
Al-Hashemi, a Sunni Muslim, sent the law back to parliament on Wednesday, asking it to increase the percentage of seats reserved for expatriate Iraqi voters from 5 per cent to 15 per cent. Most expatriates are thought to be Sunnis.
According to al-Dawla, MPs were divided during Saturday's discussions, with 'a majority calling for a rejection of al-Hashemi's demand.' A few, al-Dawla said, 'sought a compromise of reserving 10 per cent of the seats for expatriates.'
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite Muslim, on Wednesday called al-Hashemi's veto 'a dangerous threat to the political process and democracy,' and urged the electoral commission to resume preparations for the polls immediately.
January 18 was set as the poll date after parliament reached a compromise on the thorny issue of voting in the disputed northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on November 8.
The Iraqi constitution requires that elections be held before the end of January. The US military has said that it would begin reducing the number of its troops in Iraq roughly two months after the polls, provided the country appeared stable.
Parliament Speaker Iyad Al-Samarrai insisted that a delay in the elections 'would not affect the timetable for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.'
'But in the event of a constitutional vacuum and security disruptions, the government might have to delay the implementation of the timetables for the US troops' withdrawal,' he said.
The regional government in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq had also threatened to boycott the elections if the number of seats allocated to the two provinces that together make up the region is not increased.