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Iraq's Sunni Clerics: Excluding Areas from January Elections Unfair  - 2004-10-05

An influential group of Iraq's Sunni Muslim clerics says national assembly elections set for January will be a farce if they are not held in all areas of the country.

Mohammed Bashar al-Faidhi, the spokesman for the Muslim Clerics Association said Tuesday that the elections will not be credible if some areas are excluded from the vote.

He also expressed doubts that elections can be held as scheduled.

Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and some U.S. officials have said elections would still be valid, even if violence prevented voting in some areas .

Continued insurgency and rebel control of several cities have raised doubts about the feasibility of holding elections everywhere in the country.