Iraqi Parliament Fails to Resolve Electoral Crisis

Reuters reports that Iraq’s parliament failed on Saturday to resolve the crisis produced by the veto of the election bill it had passed by vice president Tariq al-Hashemi, a Sunni Arab who wanted better representation for Iraqi refugees abroad, many of whom are Sunni Arabs.

Parliament could amend the bill, but legislators fear that they would by doing so open the sluice gates to a flood of further demands for revision, e.g. from the Kurds. Or it could send the bill back to the presidential council. If it were rejected again, parliament could try to muster the votes to override the veto.

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that one issue the parliamentarians discussed was whether the veto is even constitutional, given that Iraq’s Constitutional Court rejected the veto on those grounds. Al-Hayat says that the court held that all Iraqis, inside and outside the country, are viewed as having equal rights in the constitution, and al-Hashemi is demanding a set-aside that would privilege expatriates.

MP Safiya Suhail urged that al-Hashemi’s veto be overturned by an up and down vote, and complained that interminable delays in parliament are produced by some blocs’ desire always to reach consensus.

For their part, Kurdish politicians threatened to boycott the January elections if parliament did not heed their complaints about too few seats being allotted the three provinces that make up the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq.

A delay of a month or two would probably not affect the timetable for US troop withdrawal, but more might do so, delaying the drawdown envisaged in the US-Iraqi Status of Forces Agreement.

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