Iraq’s parliament has agreed a last minute deal to overcome divisions on a law allowing elections next year.
In a special late night session convened to end the political crisis, MPs supported a redistribution of seats which appear to accommodate Sunni and Kurdish calls for a more evenly shared political voice and reflect ethnic and religious minorities. Iraq’s deputy parliamentary speaker said: “The seats of the new Parliament will be 310 seats plus 15 seats for the minorities making a total of 325.” The expansion of Iraq’s parliament is seen as a breakthrough. Rows over the reallocation of seats were in danger of reopening deep sectarian divides that had only just started to heal after the 2003 US invasion. The elections previously set for January are now likely to be held at the end of February. It is welcome news to the White House as the delayed poll had been threatening to impinge on US plans to end combat operations in Iraq by next August, ahead of a full withdrawal by 2012. The US wants to handover security responsibility to the Iraqi military but political stability is needed for that to happen.