BAGHDAD, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- The Iraqi government on Tuesday decided to postpone the provincial elections to Dec. 22, 2018, months after the parliament elections.
The provincial elections were initially set to be held simultaneously with the parliament elections slated for May 12.
Saad al-Hadithi, spokesman of the Iraqi government, said the postponed date was decided at a regular meeting of the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the state-run Iraqiya channel reported.
The cabinet decision came in response to a suggestion by the Iraqi Electoral Commission to set Dec. 22 as the date for the provincial elections, after the parliament voted earlier in favor of a decision to delay the provincial elections.
In January, a Sunni majority parliamentary coalition called for the postponement of both parliamentary and provincial elections for six months to allow hundreds of thousands of displaced Sunni voters to return home to cast their ballots after the liberation of their cities and towns from the militant group Islamic State (IS).
Sunni lawmakers argued that holding the elections without the voting by the displaced people will result in weaker representation for the Arabs, 82 percent of Nineveh's provincial population, and most of the parliamentary seats will go for other minorities.
After a political row among the parliamentary blocs, the parliament decided to oblige the government to speed up the return of the displaced people, in addition to approving the postponement of the provincial elections only.