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Iraqi Parliament OKs Law On Provincial Election

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Melissa Block.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

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And I'm Michele Norris. Today in Iraq, the parliament approved a law governing provincial elections. That's after months of debate. Those elections were supposed to have been held about a week from now. And now it looks like they'll be delayed for at least a few more months. And as NPR's Peter Kenyon reports, voters in the city of Kirkuk will have to wait even longer than that.

PETER KENYON: Early this year, Iraqi and American officials predicted that improved security would allow Iraqi leaders to focus on laying the groundwork for a new, politically stable country. One of the early milestones would be a new elections law and provisional balloting by October 1 at the latest. That deadline fell by the wayside months ago as lawmakers deadlocked over how voting would be conducted in Kirkuk, which the Kurds want to incorporate into their semiautonomous region - something Arab and Turkmen politicians bitterly object to. Today, Parliament did approve an elections law, largely through the mediating efforts of U.N. envoy Stefan De Mistura, but the Kirkuk issue was fudged. Parliament Speaker Mahmoud Mashhadani called the compromise a great success.

D: (Arabic spoken)

KENYON: The elections law now heads to the presidency council, which rejected an earlier version. Officials say this one stands a better chance of passing muster. That will be good news to many Iraqis who are waiting for the chance to vote yea or nay on their current local leaders, including voters in the western Anbar province where Sunni tribal sheiks are desperately trying to unseat the current council dominated by the Iraq Islamic Party. Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Baghdad. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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