Iraq could scrap vote on US troop withdrawal
Oct. 6, 2009 upi.com
Iraq could scrap SOFA vote
Published: Oct. 6, 2009 at 5:27 PM
A bilateral status of forces agreement signed in November calls on U.S. combat forces to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.
Baghdad had pushed to put the matter to a public vote scheduled originally for July, but delays prompted a rescheduling to coincide with parliamentary elections set for Jan. 16.
Meanwhile, Iraqi lawmakers are busy vetting a national election law that considers an open or closed list for the January vote. Already, members of the Sadrist Movement loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr have threatened to walk out on debates if a closed system is adopted, reports the Voices of Iraq news agency.
Lawmakers say there is no time to consider a national referendum on the security pact. Muther al-Hakim, a leading Shiite lawmaker, and Rashid al-Azawi, a senior Sunni figure, both add the vote is not needed because U.S. combat forces are operating under the terms of the agreement, The Wall Street Journal reports.
U.S. Army Gen. Ray Odierno, the top commander in Iraq, said he might consider extending the tours of duty for some troops beyond the election date to ensure the country is secure.
A “no” vote on the referendum could have forced U.S. combat forces from Iraq a year earlier than planned.