Iraqi president approves date for general elections

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-22 21:37:02|Editor: Liangyu
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BAGHDAD, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- The Iraqi President Fuad Masoum Monday ratified the date of the country's general elections on May 12, just hours after the approval of the parliament.

"We have decided that May 12, 2018 will be the date for the elections of the Council of Representatives (Parliament) for its fourth legislative term," Masoum said in a brief statement.

Masoum's endorsement is the final legal procedure that made the date of May 12 elections fully approved, according the Iraqi constitution.

His endorsement came hours after the parliament approved May 12 as the date of the country's general elections.

The parliament also issued a package of directives to be implemented by the government, including that the government should commit to providing a safe environment for the elections and should ensure the return of displaced people to their cities and towns, according to a statement issued by the parliament.

The directives also said that political parties, which have military wings, must not participate in the elections. In addition, the parliament obliged the government to increase the number of local and international monitors, the statement said.

Masoum and the parliament resolution came a day after the Supreme Federal Court issued an "interpretative decision" for Article 56 of the Iraqi constitution, indicating that the timing for electing the members of the new parliament must be respected.

The court's decision came just hours after the Iraqi parliament submitted a request to the court to interpret the constitution's article seeking whether it would be possible to postpone the elections as some political blocs demand, according to Ayas al-Samouk, head of the court's media office.

On Wednesday, Sunni major parliamentary coalition demanded postponement of the general elections for six months to allow hundreds of thousands of displaced Sunni people to return home to cast their ballots after the liberation of their cities and towns from the Islamic State.

The cabinet of the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in coordination with Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission decided May 12 as date for the coming elections.

According to the Iraqi constitution, the parliamentary elections must be held at least 45 days before the end of the current legislative term.

Iraq's previous general election was held on April 30, 2014, when the Iraqis elected 328 lawmakers for the parliament, which in turn elected Abadi to form an inclusive government from the Shiite alliance, Kurds and Sunnis.