Iraqi parliament approves provincial elections law

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraq's parliament has approved a provincial elections law, and the U.S. is hailing it as a sign of a maturing democracy.

Lawmakers had been deadlocked for months over the law. A complex dispute between Arabs and Kurds over power sharing in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk was at the center of it. Kurds have been seeking to incorporate Kirkuk into their semiautonomous region.

The measure still needs the approval of the three-member presidential panel led by President Jalal Talabani. Talabani is a Kurd and vetoed the last elections law proposal. This time, however, Kurdish lawmakers have signed off, suggesting approval by the panel is more likely.

Leading U.S. officials have privately complained that Iraqi politicians were failing to take advantage of the sharp drop in violence by failing to sort out differences over the law. But the State Department today congratulated the Iraqi parliament, saying passage of the law "shows a maturing Iraqi democracy."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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