Iraq's electoral body halts poll preparations

Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:51am EST

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BAGHDAD, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Iraq's election commission has halted all preparations for elections in January after Iraq's vice president vetoed part of an election law that had paved the way for the poll, an electoral official said on Wednesday.

"As a result of the veto, we have decided to stop all our activities and work as we await a final law with a presidential decree that determines the exact date of the election," Hamdiya al-Hussaini told Reuters.

Iraq's Sunni Arab vice president on Wednesday said he had vetoed part of an election law because it did not allocate seats to Iraqis displaced abroad, which had thrown fresh doubt on plans to hold general elections in January.

Any material delay to the ballot, planned for between Jan. 18-23, could affect U.S. plans to end combat operations next year, ahead of a full pullout by the end of 2011.

(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed, writing by Deepa Babington)