This is from the NY Times.
Strange the Iraqis let the UN and the U.S. in on their election planning. At least the UN advisor seems to have been of some help. It remains to be seen if this compromise can pass muster in parliament. Sadr and others may very well oppose it.
August 5, 2008
Proposal May End Stalemate on Iraqi Provincial Elections
By CAMPBELL ROBERTSON
BAGHDAD — After a third day of intense negotiations, Iraqi political leaders may have come to an agreement that would allow nationwide provincial elections to take place by the end of the year.
The disputes that have held up a law to provide for the elections centered on the ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk, which is claimed by Arabs and Kurds, and heavily populated by Turkmens.
The Kurds have been insisting that the law include a clause mandating a referendum on whether Kirkuk will join the Kurdistan regional government or remain under the control of Baghdad. The Arabs and Turkmens have consistently refused to include such a clause.
The proposed solution, put forth by a representative of the United Nations late Monday night, is simply to include an article calling for a resolution to the Kirkuk issue sometime before the end of October. Preparations for the elections could then proceed in the rest of the country, if Parliament passed the bill at a session scheduled for Tuesday.
“This removes a huge burden from everyone’s shoulders,” said Haider al-Abbadi, a member of the Dawa party who attended the meetings. “Kirkuk is the problem, and we’re delaying the whole election.”
He said that he was unsure if the proposal would pass on Tuesday, but that elections could take place this year if it did.
Mahmoud Othman, an independent Kurd, said that though there were some technical issues to be worked out, he otherwise supported the idea. “I think it’s not bad, just to delay it so these elections can take place,” he said.
Parliament was scheduled to begin a monthlong recess last week but has remained in session because a supplementary budget has not been passed. Several lawmakers said that if an election law was not approved on Tuesday, Parliament members would pass the budget and put aside the election law until they reconvened in September.
The past weekend, Iraqi political leaders, along with United Nations representatives and the United States ambassador, Ryan C. Crocker, met in a series of sessions at the Baghdad residence of the Shiite vice president, Adel Abdul Mahdi. The talks appeared headed for stalemate until the United Nations representative made the proposal.
The new law would require that Kirkuk’s provincial election take place no later than December 2009.
“It is a very good solution,” said Hashimi al-Taei, a Sunni member of Parliament. “The Kirkuk issue is a very sensitive political issue.”