Page last updated at 23:01 GMT, Wednesday, 2 December 2009

UN urges Iraq parties to set final election date

An Iraqi policeman reads an electocal committe information billboard urging people to update their voting record in Baghdad
An Iraqi guard reads a billboard urging people to update their voting record

The United Nations has called on Iraq's politicians to work together to set a final date for the country's elections.

Although Iraq's constitution states the vote must be held in January, disagreements over the electoral law mean this is unlikely to happen.

In a statement, the UN said a new feasible election date was 27 February 2010.

The deadlock is already delaying the vote and could threaten the planned US withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq.

The UN says Iraqis deserve some clarity at this point.

But earlier this week, Iraq's Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani told the BBC that the election could be pushed back to the end of March.

'Complicate plans'

US President Barack Obama wants all combat troops out of Iraq by August 2010, but he also wants to make sure that the country they leave behind is politically stable.

BBC correspondent Natalia Antelava says it is not totally clear what this election delay will mean for the American withdrawal, but it is very likely to complicate Mr Obama's plans.

The head of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, Faraj al-Haidari, has already said the country would not be able to meet the January deadline.

Iraq's parliament only recently agreed who would be allowed to vote in the disputed city of Kirkuk.

Debate over the electoral law had centred around the northern, oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which is disputed between Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen.

Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi has said he wants changes made to the election law.

He wants to guarantee seats for Iraqis living abroad, many of whom are members of the country's once-dominant Sunni Muslim community.

MPs passed an amended version of the law last week which is currently being looked at by Iraq's presidential council.

The commission is waiting for the dispute to end before setting a date.

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Al Jazeera Iraqi VP to rule on election law - 4 hrs ago
People's Daily Online Iraqi elections may be delayed - 4 hrs ago
Philadelphia Inquirer Iraq poll likely to be delayed - 6 hrs ago
Boston Globe Election law dispute could postpone Iraqs elections - 11 hrs ago
France24 February 27 Iraq election date 'feasible': UN - 21 hrs ago

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