Monday, November 23, 2009

Parliament in a mess over election law

'Hopes for a January election in Iraq faded today after Shiite Muslim and Kurdish legislators teamed up to vote for a new version of an election law that in effect takes seats away from Sunnis and is almost certain to draw another veto from the country's Sunni vice president.

Parliament then adjourned for a holiday until Dec. 8, leaving in limbo the fate of the law that is needed if the crucial election is to go ahead by the end of January, as mandated by Iraq's constitution. The withdrawal of U.S. forces has been pegged to the timing of the poll, and a delay could jeopardize President Obama's promise to bring all combat troops home by August 2010.

The head of Iraq's election commission told the Associated Press that he doubted there was now enough time to hold the poll by January. "Most probably, it might be moved to February," Faraj Haidari said.

Though that would violate the terms of Iraq's constitution, lawmakers seemed unconcerned by the prospect of a constitutional crisis.

"Nobody's applying the constitution anyway," said Kurdish legislator Mahmoud Othman, who predicted the election would be delayed. "We are in a mess now, so it doesn't make a lot of difference." '

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