Biden and Kurd chief press need for election law.


US Vice President Joe Biden and president Massud Barzani of Iraqi Kurdistan have pressed the need for a key election law to be passed in Baghdad, Kurdish authorities said on Monday.

The two men had a telephone conversation on Sunday amid concerns that Iraq-wide polls set for January will be delayed, with parliament’s Kurdish faction having previously refused to attend a vote over a compromise bill.

“Barzani and Biden highlighted the issue of the coming Iraqi elections and the obstacles faced to approve a new election law,” the government of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq said in a statement.

“The two sides emphasised the necessity of finding a suitable solution for the current problem.”

Stalemate over the bill has sparked concern that the polls, scheduled for January 16, will have to be postponed because electoral authorities will not have enough time to organise them.

Iraq’s electoral body warned on Sunday that the polls will have to be delayed if at least electoral procedures are not ironed out within days.

“We are entering a critical period,” Qassim al-Abboudi, a senior official in Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), told AFP.

“If time runs out without getting this (procedural) information, then the election date will be in danger.”

Asked when time would run out, Abboudi said he did not want to give a specific date to avoid negatively affecting discussions in parliament, but IHEC chief Faraj al-Haidari said on Saturday that procedural details would have to be in place by Tuesday.

The electoral law is supposed to be in place 90 days before voting takes place. Constitutionally, the election must be held by January 31.

Lawmakers are deadlocked over the status of the northern oil-rich province of Kirkuk, an ethnically mixed region along the border with autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan.

Kirkuk’s majority Kurds have long demanded incorporation into the region, arousing fierce opposition from the province’s Arabs and Turkmen.

Agence France-Presse

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