BAGHDAD, (AP) – Iraq’s next general election will be held on Jan. 30, the deputy parliament speaker said Monday.
The legislature received a ruling Monday from the country’s Federal Court setting the date, which is about a month later than had been expected, said deputy speaker Khalid al-Attiyah.
The court’s ruling was in response to a request for clarification by the 275-member parliament, he told The Associated Press.
Iraq’s last general election was held in December 2005, but the elected legislature did not hold its first session until March 2006, prompting the request for a court ruling about when the next election should be held.
Election Commission Chairman Faraj al-Haidari told the AP that Jan. 30 was one of two dates suggested by his organization to the Federal Court. The other date was Nov. 15 this year, he said.
“The commission will be ready,” al-Haidari said.
Maintaining security for the balloting is a top priority for the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno, and other high-ranking Pentagon officials. The bulk of the estimated 138,000 American troops in the country are expected to remain in Iraq for the vote.
U.S. forces played a key role in maintaining security during the two general elections held in January and December 2005, as well as a nationwide referendum on a new constitution in October 2005 and provincial elections in January this year.
U.S. forces are scheduled to leave Iraqi cities and redeploy to large bases outside of urban areas by June 30, but they should be available to help Iraqi forces maintain security for the Jan. 30 vote.
The pullout from the cities is part of a U.S.-Iraq security agreement that went into effect Jan. 1.
Under the pact, the last American soldier will leave Iraq by the end of 2011.