[JURIST] The Iraqi Parliament [official website] Wednesday failed to agree on a controversial provincial election bill in light of new disagreements over procedure. Kurdish legislators had 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. A UN proposal would have compromised by allowing elections in the rest of the country to proceed without the region, but that proposal was objected to by other groups which sought stricter deadlines and greater independence for the committee that would have made a final determination on control of Kirkuk. Earlier this month, Iraqi law makers reached an agreement to temporarily divide control of Kirkuk [JURIST report] among the city's ethnic groups, but observers have expressed concern that delays in a permanent agreement may push elections past the end of the year. AP has more.
In July, 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.