In a rowdy session of Iraq’s parliament, MPs have passed a long delayed election law, paving the way for national polls due in January.
Weeks of wrangling over how the ballot would be conducted in oil-rich Kirkuk had raised concerns that the reform would not be approved in time. US President Barack Obama welcomed the news: “This is an important milestone as the Iraqi people continue to take responsibility for their future. I want to congratulate Iraq’s leaders for reaching this agreement. Their flexibility and commitment to their country sends an important signal to the world about Iraq’s democracy and national unity. I look forward to prompt approval of this law by Iraqi’s Presidency Council,” said President Obama. The US had feared the row delaying the vote would hit its plans to scale down its troops and allow for a transition of American combat soldiers out of Iraq by next September. With the Obama administration focused on the worsening security situation in Afghanistan, the US is anxious to have a complete handover to Iraqi forces by the end of 2011.