October 07, 2009
BAGHDAD -- Iraq's top election official has urged legislators of all parties to ratify a new electoral law in order to accelerate preparations for January national elections, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.
Faraj al-Haidari, head of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), told RFI that the commission is in an "unenviable position" because the ballots -- which are due to be printed by October 15 -- must be approved by all blocs.
Haidari warned that if parliament fails to approve the draft electoral law by this deadline, the commission will have to proceed under the old electoral law.
He added that voting by Iraqi expatriates, which would also be regulated by the new law, is also a concern for the commission.
Haidari pointed out that only about 20,000 out of some 1 million internally displaced persons who are eligible to vote have contacted IHEC offices to update their personal data.
He added that the commission has set up mobile teams to locate the rest of the people.
The commission has previously announced that 296 political entities, including 46 people not affiliated with a party, are registered for the elections, which are due to be held on January 16.
U.S. President Barack Obama has similarly urged Iraqis to continue efforts to approve the legislation and thus allow the January polls to take place.
Speaking with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani by telephone on October 5 and then in person the next day, Obama "conveyed to President Talabani support for Iraqi efforts to adopt an election law soon," according to Reuters.
U.S. combat operations in Iraq are due to conclude by August 2010