Iraqi MPs have voted to guarantee six provincial council seats for members of small religious and ethnic minorities in local elections to be held in 2009. The reserved seats, out of a total of more than 400, are intended for three Christians and one each for the tiny Yazidi, Mandean and Shabak groups. There has been some criticism that the measure falls short of the 12 guaranteed seats proposed by the UN. A Christian MP said it was a major insult to all of Iraq's minorities. (BBC)

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