Page last updated at 14:44 GMT, Tuesday, 29 July 2008 15:44 UK

Talabani denounces election law

Jalal Talabani
Mr Talabani, a Kurd, chairs a council with Shia and Sunni vice-presidents

Iraq's president has denounced a draft law paving the way for provincial elections, after MPs adopted it despite a walkout by the Kurdish bloc.

President Jalal Talabani, who is himself Kurd, says he is confident the three-member presidential council which he chairs will not approve it.

Mr Talabani said he could not agree to a law approved by only 127 out of 275 MPs and he wanted it reconsidered.

Elections were scheduled for 1 October but are now likely to be delayed.

Correspondents say this would be a blow to the outgoing US administration of President George W Bush, which sees the elections as a key step to national reconciliation between Iraq's divided communities.

"The Iraqis have said that they'd like to try to do it by the end of the year," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

"We think that that's important. We think that local elections would help in Iraq to further reconcile all the groups."

The Iraqi parliament's 54-member Kurdish bloc and some Shia MPs boycotted the vote.

The Kurds opposed the bill because of objections to clauses about the oil-rich Kirkuk province, which is claimed by both Arabs and Kurds.

Some MPs have raised objections that the vote was secret, in violation of parliamentary bylaws.

The presidency council, the president and a Shia and a Sunni vice-president, has the power to veto parliamentary legislation.

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