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Iraq parliament passes key legislation after lawmaker walkout

[JURIST] The Iraqi Council of Representatives [official website, in Arabic] passed an amnesty law [JURIST report] as part of a package of legislation approved Wednesday, a day after speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani threatened to disband the legislature [JURIST report] when Shi'ite and Sunni lawmakers walked out on budget hearings. In addition to the amnesty law that would release roughly 5,000 prisoners, lawmakers approved a 2008 budget and passed a bill that details the relationship between Iraq's central and local governments.

The walkout, which was sparked by divisions between Kurdish and other lawmakers over what percentage of the national income [JURIST report] should be reserved for the Kurdish semi-autonomous region, could have precipitated a significant set-back for the government. Earlier this week US Defense Secretary Robert Gates praised the Iraqi government for recently passing a law allowing the reentry of former Baathists into government [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.

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