Iraq’s Election Date Set, US Withdrawal Reaffirmed

Following months of postponements and derailed votes, Iraq’s Council of Representatives finally passed the law governing the country’s parliamentary elections. With that barrier cleared, Iraq’s electoral commission announced today that elections will be held on January 21.

The law’s delayed passage provoked doubts that the US would keep its plans to end combat operations in Iraq by August 31, 2010. Its approval revives hope that the Obama administration will make good on its promise.

The president reaffirmed the 2010 withdrawal date yesterday.

“I want to congratulate Iraq’s leaders for reaching this agreement,” said President Obama in a statement yesterday. “Tough challenges remain and I’m sure that there will be difficult days to come. But this agreement advances the political progress that can bring lasting peace and unity to Iraq, and allow for the orderly and responsible transition of American combat troops out of Iraq by next September.”

The president’s words echo legislation approved by Congress at the end of October, which formally denotes the US’s obligation to meet the deadline for withdrawal from Iraq.

The disagreements that held up passage of Iraq’s election law revolved around how voting would take place in the city of Kirkuk, whose demographic makeup has changed substantially in the past few years.

For the BBC’s report on these election developments, click here.