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Iraqi Politicians Concerned About Election Law Veto

BAGHDAD -- Iraqi politicians from Sunni and Shi'ite parliamentary factions say they are concerned about the holding of parliamentary elections after Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashim's veto of the recently passed electoral law, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

Ali al-Mayalli, a member of the Sadrist parliamentary bloc, told RFI that al-Hashim's veto has created "a very serious situation" that jeopardizes the holding of the elections, which were scheduled to be held on January 18.

Al-Mayalli added that a delay beyond a deadline set for mid-January will result in a "constitutional vacuum adversely impacting the entire political process."

Salim al-Jeburi, a spokesman for the Sunni Al-Tawafuq bloc, told RFI that the veto "throws the election date into doubt" and reopens the debate on the election law, which was only passed last week "after a hard battle."

Al-Jeburi said a consensus on the election law will be "extremely difficult" to reach considering the vote to pass it "went against the wishes of some factions."

Qasim al-Abbudi, spokesman for Iraq's Independent Electoral Commission, told RFI that al-Hashimi's veto affects "fundamental aspects related to the number of seats and proportional representation" of parties and ethnic groups that impacts the commission's preparations.

Al-Abbudi said the electoral commission cannot make any further plans for the election unless an agreement on the election law is reached soon.

Ahmad Anwar, a member of the Kurdish parliamentary bloc, told RFI that al-Hashim acted within his constitutional rights and his veto will not delay the election date because parliament "can vote on a mutually acceptable amendment to the law within the next two or three days."

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said on November 16 that he wants parliament to reconsider the electoral law so that the number of seats allocated for minorities -- including Christians -- and Iraqis who are living abroad is tripled, from 5 percent to 15 percent.