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Iraq president rejects draft election law after Kurds boycott

[JURIST] Iraqi President Jalal Talabani [official website, in Arabic; BBC profile] and the two other members of the Iraqi Presidency Council refused to sign a provincial election bill on Wednesday, noting that it had been passed by an incomplete parliament. Kurdish legislators boycotted a Tuesday vote on the bill in the Iraqi Parliament [official website, in Arabic], objecting to an attached proposal that would establish a provincial council in Kirkuk [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] to include equal numbers of Kurdish, Arab and Turkmeni representatives. Kurds, who constitute the majority of the area's population, argue that this arrangement does not reflect the region's true population. The bill passed [Council of Representatives press release, in Arabic; AP report] despite the boycott before going to Iraq's Presidency Council for final approval. Talabani said that the council would likely reject the bill [Council of Representatives press release, in Arabic], which would mean delays for scheduled October elections, as it would need to be sent back to parliament for redrafting. AFP has more.

Kurdish parliamentarians staged a walkout [JURIST report] in protest last Tuesday, delaying a vote on the proposed bill. In February, the Presidency Council rejected a draft provincial elections law [JURIST report] that detailed the relationship between Iraq's central and local governments, sending the legislation back to parliament. The draft law was part of a package of legislation approved [JURIST report] by the parliament earlier that month that also included the 2008 budget and an amnesty bill [JURIST report] that will lead to the release of roughly 5,000 prisoners. In March, the Presidency Council withdrew its objections [JURIST report], indicating that the law could take effect without any changes.

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