16/02/2012 16:24 SALAHADDIN, Feb. 16 (AKnews) - An official in Salahaddin Provincial Council said the province may scrap its demand for regional autonomy if the long-awaited national conference is a success.

Vice chairman of the council Sabhan Mullah al-Jiad said the province is awaiting the outcome of the conference, adding that success is uncertain due to political differences in Iraq.

Local government officials in Salahaddin province decided in October to proclaim the province an autonomous region, assuring that the move was an appropriate solution to resolve the current political crisis in Iraq. Salahaddin accused the Shiite-dominated authorities in Baghdad of repressing the Sunnis.

A leader of the Kurdish Blocs Coalition stated in November that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani does not support Salahaddin becoming an autonomous region but believes the request should be dealt with according to the law.

Article 119 of the Iraqi constitution allows a province to become a region through a referendum requested by either one third of the council members or one tenth of the voters in each governorate.

Over the last few months several provincial councils have proclaimed autonomy or threatened to do so. The call for autonomy, especially among Sunni provinces, was a response to the arrests of more than 615 alleged former members of the Baath Party of the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The arrests were ordered by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki after Maliki received information from Libyan interim leader Mahmoud Jibril, whose rebel forces obtained documents indicating that the late Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi tried to support an attempt of Baath members to overthrow the Iraqi government.

By Othman al-Shalesh