Updated at 8:55 p.m. EST, Nov. 24, 2009
The Independent High Electoral Commission warned that it would not set a new election date until the debate over the elections law is over. At least six Iraqis were killed and 11 more were wounded in light violence.
raqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that the country was ready to resolve serveral issues it has with Kuwait, particularly finding and returning the remains of missing Kuwaitis. Meanwhile, Iraq threatened to sever economic ties if Syria does not extradite men suspected of recent bombings in Baghdad. Also, the British defense ministry promised to open a public inquiry into abuse allegations on the part of British servicemembers against Iraqi citizens.
Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi threatened to veto the new elections law again despite an added amendment, forcing the electoral commission to admit elections cannot happen in January. They will not set a new date until all debates are over.
At issue is the number of parliament seats allotted to Iraqi’s ethnic minorities. The vice president wanted more seats for his Sunni constituents abroad; however, when parliament switched the population estimates it was using to determine distribution of seats, the change favored the Kurds instead. The Kurdish provinces had threatened to boycott the election if they also did not receive more seats. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who is a Kurd, praised the amendment.
The ethnic tensions surrounding this election had forced the postponement of Iraq’s first census in 22 years because of security concerns. Not only are Shi’ite and Sunni Arabs pitted against each other for power, they also must struggle against Kurdish desires. The Kurdish Autonomous Region would like to annex border areas that are traditionally Kurdish but were subjected to “Arabization” during the Saddam years. In the meantime, Christians, Turkmen, Shabak and other minorities in the north are also fighting for greater say.
In Mosul, about 500 Sunnis demonstrated against the new amendment. They blamed the vice president for losing seats that had been reserved for them and driving the Shi’ite majority to make the Kurds happy instead.
Arab politicians in Kirkuk are also threatening to boycott the elections as well. Kirkuk sits on a huge oil field and is claimed by both Kurds and Arabs. Even if elections do occur, the results in Kirkuk would be provisional and subject to intense scrutiny for months afterwards. As in the past, the elections here could be postponed, but many lawmakers are against this course.
Also in Mosul, three policemen were killed and one more was wounded in a bomb blast. Gunmen robbed a health center of 45 million dinars.
In Baghdad, a sticky bomb killed a mosque imam and wounded two passengers also traveling in his vehicle. Five suspects in security uniforms were arrested for robbery. A car bomb in Karrada may have left casualties. In Kharad Kharaq, a sticky bomb wounded two people in a car and a bystander. A bomb in Adhamiya wounded two more. Two people were wounded during a blast in Shabb.
A small arms attack left one dead and one wounded in Saidiya.
A bomb killed a prominent Sunni cleric in Saqlawiya.
Ten staff members and students of Tikrit University were arrested after seven explosive devices were discovered on campus yesterday.
Police in Hawija found a weapons cache.
Anbar province has banned celebratory gunfire.
Twenty-six suspects were arrested during raids in Basra province.
Five suspects were arrested in Jalawla. Two are believed to be members of the Naqshabandiya Army and the other three could belong to al-Qaeda.
Read more by Margaret Griffis
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