Baghdad (AsiaNews) - The Iraqi parliament has approved almost unanimously the new election law, paving the way for the vote in the 2010. The green light came during an emergency session that ended shortly before midnight yesterday, the deadline for an agreement. It should put an end to a period of political deadlock. AsiaNews sources in Baghdad have called it a "truce" between political factions, but "tension remains high."
With the approval of the law, the date of elections remains to be discussed, originally planned for January 16. The Vice-President of Parliament announced that it could be held February 27, 2010, but is not yet clear if all the necessary steps will be completed in time for the vote to be held.
Sunni vice-president Tareq al-Hashemi, has congratulated "all the Iraqi people for this historic victory" and adds that the compromise "will pull the country out of the impasse" into which it had slipped . He had rejected the previous reform of the electoral law, because it did not provide enough seats for the ethnic Sunni minority in Iraq, even if it held power under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Another element of contrast, is Kirkuk, a city in the north, the centre of a dispute between Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen over its vast oil reserves.
The new law provides for an increase in the number of parliamentary seats, from the current 275 to 325. Kurds will get 41 seats for the three northern provinces and a further dozen additional seats. Iraqis abroad can also vote for the provincial college of their place of origin. The Christian minority will have eight seats. One-third of Parliament will be formed by women.
AsiaNews sources in Baghdad show a cautious optimism about the signing of the agreement. "The tension – they explain from the capital - among the ethnic groups remains high." Its ratification seems more a "truce", because the leadership has understood "that the Iraqi people are tired of quarrels, divisions and violence that bloody the country."