Iraq gov't agrees on date for security pact vote
Associated Press
2009-06-10 03:10 AM
The Iraqi government agreed Tuesday to hold a national referendum on its security pact with the U.S. early next year instead of this summer, as originally planned.

The Cabinet decision, which needs approval from Iraq's parliament, means the referendum would be held together with national parliamentary elections on Jan. 30.

Spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the move would "save time and money."

The Cabinet allocated nearly $100 million to enable the Iraqi electoral commission to hold the two votes on the same day.

The Iraqi parliament agreed to the security pact last November, after months of bitter negotiations. But it included the caveat that the deal should go before voters in a referendum to be held by July 30.

The agreement outlines plans for U.S. troops to withdraw from urban areas by the end of this month and from the entire country by the end of 2011. It also imposed stricter Iraqi oversight of U.S. forces in Iraq.

Opponents had argued the Americans should leave immediately after the Dec. 31 expiration of a U.N. mandate for foreign forces.

The inclusion of the referendum met a demand by the main Sunni bloc in parliament and raised the possibility that the deal could be rejected if anti-U.S. anger and demands for an immediate withdrawal grew.

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