Baghdad rejects Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi’s veto of the new election law as divisions over parliamentary seat distribution might jeopardize the key vote scheduled for January.
The Iraqi Federal Supreme Court threw out on Thursday an attempted veto by Hashimi who protested the approval of the country’s long-awaited new electoral law for not considering seats for almost two million Iraqis living abroad.
The Supreme Court, however, blocked the move, arguing that election organizers, and not the law, decided how many seats should be allocated to Iraqi nationals living outside the country.
The crucial national poll, the second since the US-led invasion of 2003, is due in mid-January but cannot go ahead until the law governing it receives presidential approval.
This is while Iraq’s presidential council – made up of President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, and two vice presidents, Sunni Arab Hashimi and Shia Adel Abdul Mehdi – has demanded a greater say in the election for minorities and Iraqi refugees.
Iraqi lawmakers, who are expected to decide on the veto on Saturday, have expressed their commitment to holding the elections as scheduled in January, and stressed that the veto is ‘unconstitutional’.
The veto attempt, denounced by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as a threat to the country’s ‘political process and democracy’, also received a chilly welcome from Talabani.
The president distanced himself from the decision, saying the Sunni vice president had been under pressure from his allies to use the veto.
“I am afraid that there will be a new delay to the election…That is why I decided not to oppose the electoral law,” Talabani told France 24 television, warning that the postponement of the elections would lead to ‘a power vacuum’ in Iraq.
Recent challenges on way to reach a new election law has given rise to concerns over a delay in the voting and, thus, a derailment of a US plan to ramp up its withdrawal from Iraq following the poll.