BAGHDAD — Iraq's Sunni Arab vice president threatened Sunday to veto the country's election law unless changes are made giving Iraqis living abroad more guaranteed seats in Parliament, throwing the January vote into question.
The veto threat comes a week after lawmakers passed the long-delayed legislation, paving the way for national polls in January. Any delay in the voting could derail a U.S. plan to withdraw combat troops from Iraq, a process scheduled to ramp up after the election.
Tareq al-Hashimi gave Parliament until noon Tuesday to amend the election bill and ensure greater representation for voters outside of Iraq, most of whom are Sunni Arabs like al-Hashimi.
"If the law is not amended by the Parliament or the electoral commission by reconsidering the distribution of … seats, I will definitely use my constitutional right," al-Hashimi said on al-Hurra television, referring to his veto power over legislation.
"I will not allow the passage of a law that contradicts the constitution and the principles of justice, regardless of the price to be paid," he added.
Earlier Sunday, in a letter to parliament, al-Hashimi said the election bill lawmakers passed a week ago "did not give fair treatment to the large segment of Iraqi people who are living abroad and who were forced to leave their country for reasons beyond their control."
Most of the estimated 2 million Iraqis who fled the sectarian violence in their homeland are Sunni Arabs. The vast majority now live in Jordan and Syria.