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A sign of national reconciliation? Iraq's parliament agrees a compromise over provincial elections

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A sign of national reconciliation? Iraq's parliament agrees a compromise over provincial elections

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After months of wrangling, Iraq’s Parliament has finally approved legislation paving the way for long-awaited local elections.

The debate was held up due to disagreement over how to treat the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk.

As a compromise, the procedure will be dealt with separately, allowing ballots to go ahead in the rest of the country.

“We have today reached agreement on this issue. I think agreement on this will make things easier in the coming months. We can tell our brothers in the south of Iraq, the centre of Iraq, in Kurdistan and in all the cities that today the country’s parliament has achieved something.” said the head of the Parliamentary Legal Committee.

Polls will be held in 14 Iraqi provinces by the end of January, but Kirkuk and three other neighbouring provinces will vote at a later date.

Control of the oil-rich area is disputed between Iraqi Kurds, who want more autonomy, and Iraqi Arabs and ethnic Turkmen who want to be under the control of central government.

The election legislation must now be approved by Iraq’s three-man presidency council.