Iraq's presidential council on Friday ratified a law that paves the way for the first provincial elections in four years, officials said. Friday's ratification will allow preparations to go ahead for the vote, which must be held by Jan. 31.
Iraq's parliament approved the law unanimously on Sept. 24 following months of deadlock centering on a Kurdish-Arab dispute over the city of Kirkuk, which the Kurds seek to incorporate into their semiautonomous region in the north. But Christians, Yazidis and other minorities opposed the exclusion of an article that would guarantee them a certain number of seats on the local councils.
Firyad Rawndouzi, a Kurdish lawmaker, told The Associated Press that the three-member panel led by President Jalal Talabani had signed the law Friday and asked the parliament "to solve the minorities problem."
"There is an effort to come up with an appendix regarding the minorities later on," presidential council spokesman Nasser al-Ani said.
The approval from Talabani and his deputies, Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi and Shiite Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, was significant because they had vetoed a previous version over the summer. That measure had been approved by parliament despite a Kurdish walkout in anger over Kirkuk.