Iraq expects election law by Saturday

Sunni Iraqi lawmakers say they expect to pass amendments to the parliamentary election law during a weekend session as tensions over deadlines loom.

Iraq is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections Jan. 16. Lawmakers are in the process of debating amendments to a 2005 election law, though international and Iraqi election officials said time is running out.

Abdul Kareem al-Samarai, a leading Sunni lawmaker, tells CNN International he expects Parliament to pass amendments during a weekend session.

Iraqi election officials said their planning is based on a Jan. 16 date, but officials have raised repeated fears the election could be delayed without a revised election law.

Lawmakers are divided over whether to hold an open- or closed-list voting system. A closed system lists only political parties on the ballot while the open system lists candidate’s names.

Apart from the type of voting system used, lawmakers are debating how to conduct elections in the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk, where disputes among Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen plague any political development.

If lawmakers are unable to reach an agreement, the 2005 election law will govern the January vote, which used a closed-list system.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is seeking another term, said any delays would create political “chaos” as the current Parliament loses legitimacy.


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