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Iraqi Political Groups Call for Delay of Elections


Several political groups in Iraq are calling for the postponement of national elections, scheduled for January 30. The parties, mostly Sunni Muslim, Kurdish and secular groups, cited security concerns as their reason for calling for the delay.

Saying that the interim government cannot guarantee the safety of voters at polling stations, the groups are calling for the postponement of Iraq's elections by up to six months.

A petition was signed Friday in Baghdad at the home of influential Sunni Muslim elder statesman Adnan Pachachi. Three interim government ministers attended the meeting.

The petition is the latest effort waged mostly by Iraq's minority Sunni population to delay the elections, fearing that violence in Sunni Muslim areas, such as Fallujah, Baquba, Samarra, Tikrit and areas around Baghdad, would prevent Sunni Muslims from voting in January. Several Sunni groups have threatened to boycott the elections, if they are held in January.

Numerous Sunni clerics associations have repeatedly called for the elections to be postponed. However, most of Iraq's majority Shiite Muslim population want to move forward with the elections, following decades of oppression under Saddam Hussein, who is a Sunni Muslim.

A senior official with Iraq's Interior Ministry said holding the elections in January as planned would be a blow to insurgents in Iraq, who are attempting to prevent the elections from being held. The official said postponing the elections would only fuel the insurgency.

In the northern city of Mosul, where militants have waged a two-week campaign of intimidation, U.S. forces said they discovered 15 bodies, raising to 30 the number of bodies discovered in the city over the past 10 days. Earlier in the week, U.S. forces discovered 11 bodies dumped in areas around Mosul. Most were said to be members of the Iraqi National Guard or army.

In Baquba, north of Baghdad, gunmen killed an Iraqi National Guard officer on Friday.

In Baghdad, a British security firm said four of its employees were killed late Thursday following a mortar attack. The explosion occurred inside the heavily protected area known as the Green Zone.

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