Monday, November 23, 2009

Iraqi Parliament amends troubled election law


Addressing Kurdish worries, all provinces will see equal increase in number of seats

Rudaw- Iraqi parliament today decided to increase the number of parliamentary seats equally to all the provinces throughout the country in an attempt to avoid a Kurdish boycott of the upcoming parliamentary elections.

In Monday’s session the parliament also decided to increase the percentage of parliamentary seats for the Iraqis abroad to 10 percent. Tariq al-Hashimi, vice president, had voted a previous election law because the law gave only 5 percent seats for Iraqis abroad. The vice president had asked for a 15 percent of the seats.

Kurds had threatened to boycott the elections unless the mechanism for distributing the seats is changed. The allocations for the seats by the Iraqi High Electoral Commission that was announced on November 12 left the Kurds angry as the saw their region received unfair number of seats in the next National Assembly.

The Iraqi parliament passed the election laws in November 8. According to the law, the number of seats was increased from 275 to 323 the country and the country were divided into 18 circles, which each province getting a certain number of seats.

IHEC allocated only 38 seats for the provinces under the control of Kurdistan Regional Government, while other provinces of Iraq show significant increase in number of seats.

IHEC says it has used data of population increase in each government that has been produced by the Ministry of Trade (MoT). IHEC said that depending on the population increase provinces have been given addition seats. For example the population of Nineveh province has increased by 1, 3 million, thus the province was given an additional 13 seats to get a total of 31 seats in the next parliament.

In today’s session, in which Sunni MP walked out of the session, the parliament decided to use the 2005 population figure and to add 2.8 percent for the population growth equally to all provinces, according to local and international news agencies. Sunnis MP complained that amendments made today to equally increase the number of seats were an attempt to “steal seats” Sunni province in favor of the Kurdish areas, Radio Sawa quoted Sunni MP Usamma al-Nujaifi as saying.

The Sunnis’ walk out of the session will further put doubt on whether the elections can be held by the end of January. Last week IHEC suspended all its operations until the parliament and presidential council agree on the law.

Now that the parliament has amended the law, the president and his two deputies have ten days to approve or reject the law.

© Rudaw