(Nov. 20, 2008) On November 4, 2008, the Iraqi Parliament approved article 50 of the Provincial Election Law, on seats for religious minorities on provincial councils. Through the reinstatement of article 50, which had been removed from the Law when it was passed on September 24, 2008, the Provincial Election Law now recognizes the rights of religious minorities to participate in the political process in Iraq. Specifically, the newly enacted article establishes six seats for religious minorities on the provincial councils of Baghdad, Ninawa [Nineveh], Basra, and the Kurdistan territory.
In addition, article 11 of the Law specifically designates 25 percent of the seats of all provincial councils as being set aside for female candidates. This is aimed at bolstering the rights of Iraqi women in the political process.
According to President Jalal Talibany, the reason for approving article 50 is to enhance the principles of pluralism and of ethnic and religious tolerance in the country, which did not exist under the rule of Saddam Hussein. (The Presidential Council Discusses with Christian Representatives the Modifications of the Provincial Election Law, AL SABAAH, Nov. 6, 2008, available at http://www.alsabaah.com/paper.php?source=akbar&mlf=interpage&sid=72554.)