Tue, Dec 08, 2009 - Page 1 News List

UN urges Iraqi president to set general election date

AFP , BAGHDAD

The UN yesterday urged Iraq’s president to announce “as soon as possible” the date for the war-torn country’s general election after members of parliament struck a last minute deal to back the poll.

The election, the second national vote since the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, is seen as a crucial step toward consolidating Iraq’s democracy and securing a complete US military exit by the end of 2011.

Protracted negotiations over the law governing the election lasted more than two months but lawmakers passed it on Sunday.

The presidency council, made up of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and his two deputies, now has to announce a date for the poll.

A spokeswoman for the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said a quick announcement was needed to start election preparations.

“We now want the Iraqis to set a date as soon as possible so that election organizers can start the administrative process,” UNAMI’s Eliana Nabaa said.

The UN has previously said that holding the poll on Feb. 27 would be “feasible.”

The electoral law was welcomed by Washington as a “decisive moment for Iraq’s democracy.”

Under the new law, the number of seats in Iraq’s parliament will increase from 275 to 325, including three additional seats for provinces in the country’s northern autonomous region of Kurdistan.

Of the remaining 15 seats, eight will be allocated to minorities, including Christians, and seven to smaller parties.

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