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Al-Najaf Turnout High Amid Irregularities

Al-Najaf, Iraq; 30 January 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Voter turnout is strong in the governorate of Al-Najaf, but at least one political party has complained that its list was deleted from the local election ballot.

The Al-Najaf governate is a stronghold of the Shi'ite majority, which is expected to win the majority of seats in the National Assembly as well as the governate elections.

Tawfiq Abbas al-Bidari said that his party, Free Republic, had registered to participate in the governorate's election, only to find that it was not on the ballot today, Radio Free Iraq's Al-Najaf correspondent reported. Al-Bidari called for a new election in the governorate.

Meanwhile, other local election lists have complained that Governor Adnan al-Zurufi's list violated regulations set by the Independent Electoral Commission, which called on all registered parties to cease campaigning 48 hours before the polls opened.

RFI reported that al-Zurufi's list continued campaigning. RFI reported on 29 and 30 January that al-Zurufi sent police out to hand out posters for his list.

The Independent Electoral Commission announced on 29 January that it would fine a number of parties, including that of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, for violating the regulation, Radio Free Iraq reported.

Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

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