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Iraq parliament ends session without agreeing on draft election law

[JURIST] The Iraqi Parliament [official website] has failed to agree on a draft election bill prior to adjourning for the summer on Wednesday. Kurdish legislators have strongly opposed the bill's proposal to establish a provincial council in Kirkuk [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] made up of equal numbers of Kurdish, Arab, and Turkmeni representatives. Kurds constitute the majority in the area, and have argued that this arrangement does not reflect the region's true population. Some have said that the delay in passing the draft law could postpone provincial elections until next year, although deputy parliamentary speaker Khalid al-Attiyah said that elections can proceed on schedule if the draft law is passed by September. Earlier this month, Iraqi law makers reached an agreement to temporarily divide control of Kirkuk [JURIST report] among the city's ethnic groups, as part of a compromise bill providing for provincial elections in the city. AP has more.

Last month, Kurdish parliamentarians staged a walkout [JURIST report], delaying a vote on the proposed provincial election bill that they said was unconstitutional. The bill passed despite the boycott, but Iraqi President Jalal Talabani [official website, in Arabic; BBC profile] and the two other members of the Iraqi Presidency Council later refused to sign it [JURIST report] because it had been passed by an incomplete parliament. In February, Iraq's Presidency Council rejected an earlier 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.

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