Iraqi prime minister: Early elections to be held next June

Iraq's prime minister says early elections will be held in June next year, fulfilling a promise made when he took office to meet a key demand of anti-government protesters

Over 500 protesters were killed in the demonstrations as Iraqi security forces used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse crowds. Pressure from the protests lead to the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi. Al-Kadhimi came to power following a political consensus in May and promised to deliver on key protesters' demands.

It's unclear under what electoral law the vote will be held. The premier's announcement has effectively thrown the ball in parliament's court, which now must officially vote on the new date. But political differences prevail over the implementation of a new electoral law passed late last year.

Parliament approved the law in December, aiming to give political independents a better chance of winning seats in parliament and weaken the hold of ruling elites.

If implemented, the legislation would change each of the country’s 18 provinces into several electoral districts, with one legislator elected per 100,000 people. Crucially, the law also prevents parties from running on unified lists, which in the past has helped them sweep all the seats in a specific province. With the new law, seats will go to whoever gets the most votes in the electoral districts.

The May 2018 elections drew abysmal voter turnout and were tainted with allegations of fraud.

In a statement, the U.N. mission in Iraq welcomed al-Kadhimi's decision and said it was ready to provide support and technical advice, if requested by his government.