Iraqi Parliament passes key election law
Baghdad: Iraqi MPs on Sunday approved a law to govern the country's general election due in early 2010, paving the way to agree a date for the vote, said the Parliament's Vice President.
Khaled al-Attiya said on state television 141 of the 195 members present voted for the document.
The election is viewed as crucial to consolidating the war-torn nation's fledgling democracy ahead of a withdrawal of US combat troops by August next year and a complete pullout by the end of 2011.
The vote is slated for January 16 but the date has been thrown into doubt because of delays and wrangles over the system to be used in what will be the second national poll since the ouster of dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.
The law was finally passed after weeks of delays and following huge pressure from the United Nations, religious leaders and the United States, with the presence at Parliament today of American Ambassador Christopher Hill.
"There is a time for discussion and there is a time for decision," Hill said prior to the vote. "Today is a time for decision."