Iraq announces new election date

Iraq has postponed the country’s parliamentary elections by one day to March 7, Nasser al-Ani, the presidential chief-of-staff, has said on Iraqi state television.

“There was an agreement to hold the elections on March 6,” al-Ani told al-Iraqiya television on Tuesday.

“But another meeting in the afternoon studied the case and decided to postpone it for one day only until the 7th of March. Tomorrow the presidential decree will be issued to ratify the electoral law,” he said.

Iraqi authorities had originally set March 6 as the date for the parliamentary polls, the second such vote since Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s deposed ruler, was ousted by a US-led invasion in 2003.

Kurdish leaders had complained March 6 was historically inappropriate because of a treaty signed decades ago on that day between Iraq and Iran, which they say eroded their rights, officials said.

The announcement also comes two days after Iraqi parliamentarians finally struck a last-minute deal to get the poll back on track, but the news was overshadowed by a series of five car bombs in Baghdad that killed at least 127 people.

The election, which will now fall on a Sunday, the first day of the working week in Iraq, is seen as a crucial step towards consolidating Iraq’s democracy and securing a complete US military exit by the end of 2011, as planned.

It had originally been scheduled for January 16 but was delayed because of disagreements over the electoral law.


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