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Iraqi Parliamentary Campaigning Kicks Off


Campaigning has begun in Iraq for December's parliamentary elections, which will put in place the country's first permanent government since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003.

Election commission officials say more than 200 coalitions and candidate lists representing Iraq's many religious and ethnic groups were registered by Friday's deadline. Analysts already are predicting that only five of those coalitions are likely to dominate in the race for parliament's 275 seats.

Those coalitions represent the largest Shi'ite and Kurdish groups, as well as some recent Sunni Arab entrants.

Iraq's most senior Shi'ite religious authority, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, says he does not plan to endorse any one ticket, unlike in the January poll when he supported the United Iraqi Alliance.

In other developments, the U.S. military reports the deaths of three more American soldiers Saturday.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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