Page last updated at 13:15 GMT, Monday, 9 November 2009

Iraqi general election date set

Iraqi dipping her finger in ink to show she has voted
The revised law is seen as vital to the process of democratising Iraq

Iraq's parliamentary election will take place on 21 January 2010, the country's electoral commission has announced.

This comes a day after the Iraqi parliament approved a crucial election law after weeks of deadlock.

Officials said the law was passed too late for the original intended poll date, 16 January, to be kept to.

Faraj al-Haidari, the head of the electoral commission, said the date would have to be rubberstamped by the presidency council.

The electoral law - which had to be in place at least 90 days before voting - was approved by 141 of the members of parliament.

The election is seen as crucial to strengthening Iraqi democracy and correspondents say a greater delay could have affected US plans for a pullout.

Debate over the electoral law centred around the northern, oil-rich city of Kirkuk whose ethnic profile has changed since the US-led invasion.

On Sunday MPs managed to compromise, agreeing that in such provinces where there were disputes over the electoral roll, the results would be provisional.

They also decided that electoral lists printed on ballot papers would include names of politicians standing for office - as opposed to showing only their political parties.

The UN had warned that it could not guarantee to endorse the poll if the reform bill was not passed.

There are fears that violence may intensify in the run-up to the election as militant groups attempt to destabilise Iraq.

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