Iraq presidential council withdraws objection to provincial elections law

Iraq's presidential council withdrew its objection to a provincial elections law on Wednesday, giving a major boost to US-backed efforts to promote national reconciliation on the fifth anniversary of the war. The move came two days after US Vice President Dick Cheney visited Baghdad to press Iraqi leaders to overcome their differences and take advantage of a lull in violence to make political progress. Many Sunnis boycotted the last nationwide elections, in January 2005, for the 275-member parliament and for local officials. The vote ushered in representational government, but it also gave majority Shi'ites and minority Kurds the bulk of power. The US hopes new elections, to be held Oct. 1 according to the draft measure, would give the Sunnis more political power and thereby weaken the insurgency.