Monday, May 18, 2009

Wire: Iraq Postpones Election, Complicates US Drawdown

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2009 -- Newswires reported today that Iraq's national parliamentary elections will be held Jan. 30, Iraqi officials announced Monday, postponing the date into next year in a move that could complicate the U.S. timetable for drawing down its forces.

The Associated Press reported that the new parliament will choose a prime minister and Cabinet, a process that could take months. A long delay in setting up a new government could force President Barack Obama to revise his goal of removing most of American troops from Iraq by the end of August 2010.

AP reported the following details:
The election for the 275-member parliament had been expected in December, four years after the current assembly was chosen. But the current parliament did not hold its first session until March 2006, or about three months after the December 2005 election.

Deputy parliament speaker Khalid al-Attiyah said the Federal Court ruled that the current mandate lasts until March 2010 and selected a date 45 days before the expiration.

Some Iraqi politicians had suggested delaying the election for up to a year, giving the prime minister's Shiite and Sunni rivals who did not fare as well in the provincial elections more time to regroup. Al-Maliki opposed a lengthy delay.

Timing of the election is critical to Obama's plan to end the American combat role in Iraq next year and withdraw most of the 135,000 U.S. troops by September 2010.
If the election process is again delayed and punctuated by violence, it could force the Obama administration to slow the drawdown to help keep order and maintain leverage with the Iraqis to make political compromises, AP noted.

(Report from newswire sources.)

Source: Iraq slides election until January

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