BAGHDAD, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi on Wednesday vetoed part of the controversial election law, demanding more seats in the next parliament for Iraqis living abroad.
Hashimi stressed that he is not objecting the entire law but only the first article concerning the number of seats allocated for the Iraqis abroad, of whom most are Sunni Arabs.
"My objection is not on the entire law, it is only on its first article to be amended, in order to give justice to all Iraqis living abroad," Hashimi told reporters at a news conference here.
Most of Iraqis living outside Iraq are Sunni Arab Muslims who either fled the country due to the sectarian strife or because some were part of Saddam Hussein's regime that was toppled by the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
"I have sent a letter of my objection to the Presidency Council and another copy of the letter to the parliament," Hashimi said, expressing hope that the parliament will convene soon to discuss the proposed amendment so that the elections can be carried out as scheduled.
"I hope that the amendment of article one will be carried out in a parliamentary session," he said.
Hashimi's veto threatened to a new possible delay to the country's elections, which according to the Iraqi constitution should take place by the end of January.
Later in the day, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki criticized in a statement Hashimi's move, saying "the veto is a serious threat to the political process."
Maliki also called on the Iraqi parliament and the country's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) to carry on their preparations to ensure holding the national elections without delay.
Meanwhile, the official television Iraqia quoted Judge Qassim al-Abboudi, member of the IHEC, as saying that his electoral commission decided to halt its preparatory activities for the country's January polls.
On Tuesday, the Kurdish Regional government (KRG) in northern Iraq also threatened to boycott the country's January national elections, protesting the process of the parliamentary seats allocation for the provinces.
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