The head of Iraq's electoral commission says the presidential council
has called for the nation's parliamentary election to be held January
18 instead of January 21, as proposed earlier this week.
Faraj al-Haidari said Wednesday that the decision on when to hold the poll is up to the council.
date of the vote has been uncertain for weeks due to a political
deadlock over an election law. Lawmakers finally passed the law on
U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed the law's passage, calling it an important milestone toward ensuring lasting peace in Iraq.
national election is seen as a crucial test as Iraq takes more
responsibility for its own security ahead of a gradual withdrawal of
Iraqis will be casting ballots to fill 323
parliamentary seats. That number is up from 275 in the current
parliament, based on a formula that calls for one representative for
every 100,000 Iraqis.
A key part of the dispute over the
election law involved how to conduct the vote in northern Iraq's
ethnically-divided, oil-rich region of Kirkuk.
eventually decided that votes in Kirkuk will be subject to a special
review to determine if there has been an unusual increase in registered
voters. The region's Arab and Turkmen residents claim Kurds have moved
into the region to tip the balance in their favor.
want to incorporate Kirkuk into their autonomous region in northern
Iraq, but Arabs and Turkmen want the region to remain under the control
of the central government.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.