The Iraqi parliament on Sunday approved a long-delayed election bill paving the way for a national vote in January 2010 after overcoming a row over the disputed city of Kirkuk, lawmakers said. A delay in approving the law because of disagreements on how to conduct the ballot in Kirkuk had thrown the Jan. 16 election date into doubt, Reuters reported.
Kurds claim Kirkuk, which sits on vast oil resources, as their ancestral home and want it wrapped into their semi-autonomous northern enclave.
In the end, the law was approved by 141 out of 196 lawmakers present. The deputies approved the law after a tense session during which U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill could be seen shuttling between various political factions. "We congratulate members of the Council of Representatives for coming to agreement on the various difficult issues of considerable importance to Iraqis. With the passage of this law, the Iraqi people, through their representatives, have shown their desire to uphold democratic and consultative government," said Hill and General Ray Odierno, in a statement after the vote.