Iraqi president calls passage of election law unconstitutional
Iraq's President Jalal Talabani denounced Wednesday the passing of the key provincial election law by the Iraqi parliament as unconstitutional, and said he would not ratify it, reported dpa.
Talabani said the law would deepen sectarian and nationalistic tendencies, according to a statement released by his office. He criticized the fact that the vote involved an "unprecedented" secret ballot.
Iraq's parliament passed the key law on Tuesday despite a walkout by Kurdish members of parliament to protest a secret ballot on a provision related to the multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk.
The law must be approved by the presidency council led by Talabani, who is a Kurd.
"The presidency council will not pass a law voted by only 127 lawmakers - less than half the members of parliament. This does not align with the vision of a new democratic Iraq," said the statement.
The law is seen as a key step to national reconciliation. Any delay in provincial elections, which the law stated should be held no later than December 31, would stoke tension among Iraq's political and sectarian groups
Provincial elections are seen as a way to shift more powers to Iraq's provinces and hence boost the political standing of Sunni Arabs, who boycotted the 2005 election.
The government of Iraq's Kurdish Autonomous Region denounced the passage of the law and announced that its President Masud Barzani would visit Baghdad to discuss the issue.
The crux of the disagreement is about the ethnic identity of Kirkuk. Kurds regard the integration of the city into the autonomous Kurdish region as an inalienable principle.
They are pitted against Kirkuk's other communities of Arabs, Turkmens and Christians, who want the city to remain under Baghdad's administration. dpa sag sc