Page last updated at 16:34 GMT, Tuesday, 5 August 2008 17:34 UK

Iraq postpones key elections vote

Jalal Talabani
President Talabani vetoed the draft law when it was sent to him last month

Iraqi political leaders have again postponed a vote in parliament on a draft provincial election law that is seen as a key political reform.

The initial draft faced strong opposition from Kurdish parties, who rejected plans for power-sharing in the ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk.

Political leaders have since been locked in talks in an attempt to resolve objections to the draft.

The impasse has threatened to delay provincial polls scheduled for October.

The US views the elections as a way of reconciling Iraq's rival ethnic and religious communities by redistributing power at a local level.

Kurdish leaders, representing the majority community in Kirkuk, say seats on the local council should be allocated on the basis of election results, rather than being shared equally among Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen as the draft law proposed.

kirkuk map

The UN has proposed a plan which would delay a vote on the city and allow the provincial elections to take place elsewhere at the allotted time.

Some leaders have backed the idea, but others including a Turkmen representative, said a delay was unacceptable.

The oil-rich Kirkuk area, which lies to the south of the Kurds' semi-autonomous northern region, is a potential flashpoint in Iraq.

Parliament adopted the draft provincial election law last month, despite a boycott by Kurdish and some Shia Muslim MPs. But the three-man presidency council, headed by President Jalal Talabani, who is Kurdish, sent the legislation back to MPs for reworking.

MPs have rescheduled the parliamentary session for Wednesday.

Separately, reports say two people were killed and 19 others were wounded in a second consecutive day of bomb attacks in Baghdad, which has seen a downturn in violence in recent months.

On Monday, a roadside bomb killed two US soldiers and wounded another in the capital.

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